IMAGE: Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand celebrate winning their quarter-final match at the All England Championships in Birmingham on Friday. Photograph: PTI
India’s Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand continued their impressive run, dishing out another superlative performance to advance to their second successive semi-finals at the All England Championships in Birmingham on Friday.
The World No 17 Indian pair looked solid in their defence and relentless in attack, claiming 21-14, 18-21, 21-12 win over the newly-formed Chinese pair of Li Wen Mei and Liu Xuan Xuan in a 64-minute quarter-finals.
The only Indians in the fray, Gayatri and Treesa will face either Indonesian combination of eighth seeded Apriyani Rahayu and Siti Fadia Silva Ramadhanti or Korea’s Baek Ha Na and Lee So Hee next.
Gayatri and Treesa had reached the semi-finals in the last edition as well when they were handed a spot in the main draw at the last moment.
But this time they entered the draw with a fair amount of experience, having claimed the Commonwealth Games bronze last year and notching up wins over higher-ranked pairs such as World No 7 Tan Pearly and Thinnah Muralitharan at the Badminton Asia Mixed Team Championship in February.
The Indian duo had shocked seventh seeded Thais Jongkolphan Kititharakul and Ravindra Prajongjai and former world No. 1 pair from Japan Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota in the previous rounds.
In the quarter-finals, Gayatri, 20, and Treesa, 19, were up against Li, who has been World No 9 in the past, and Liu, a former World No 16.
Taking on the World No 52 pair, Gayatri stood solid at the net while Treesa came up with delectable smashes and drops from the back to dominate the proceedings in the rallies.
With coach Mathias Boe and Arun Vishnu constantly chirping from the sidelines, the Indian pair displayed their aggressive intent right from the word go and moved to 6-2 early on.
The Chinese pair clawed back at 6-6 but the Indian soon entered the mid-game interval with a healthy 11-8 advantage.
Gayatri and Treesa got a measure of their opponent quickly and constructed the points well to move to 18-12 before taking the first game comfortably.
The Indian pair kept a firm grip on the rallies to lead 5-1 and 10-6 at one stage after the change of sides but Li and Liu soon found their bearing and chipped away at the lead.
Eventually, a couple of tight serves from Liu helped them cap five straight points and take a 11-10 lead.
It was a down-the-line smash from Gayatri that broke the run of points. Gayatri seemed more alert near the court, changing defence to attack.
Few flat exchanges ensued next with Treesa’s wild forehand landing out and Gayatri rushing onto a shot as the Chinese pair again grabbed the lead.
Li and Liu tried to produce acute angles as Treesa found the net. A couple of errors from the Indians put the Chinese pair three points from levelling the scores.
Li soon set up four game points with a precise on-the-line return. India saved two game points before Li unleashed a smash to take the match to the decider.
In the third game, it was a one-way traffic as the Indian pair reeled off six points on the trot to gallop to 8-1. The Indian duo was charged up as their shot selection and on court judgements were spot on.
The Chinese tried to slow down the pace but Treesa’s relentless attack from the back took the Indian pair to 11-4 at the midgame interval.
Treesa was always aiming for the lines and her precision was rewarded again as they moved to 13-5. Gayatri too complemented her partner, charging towards net to gain another point. Another delightful net play saw India reach 15-8.
The Chinese tried everything but couldn’t sustain the pressure as Treesa unleashed another booming smash to reach 18-10.
Another forehand smash from Gayatri set up a massive eight match point advantage and the Indian pair sealed it when the Chinese pair went long.
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