Top seed Carolina Marin takes on fourth seed Akane Yamaguchi in the Women's singles semi-final of India Open 2017 in New Delhi on Saturday.
The world number three edged past Japan's Minatsu Mitani in hard-fought quarter-final battle that extended to 57 minutes on Friday. Marin decimated the world number 21 in the first set but dropped the second only to claw back in the decider to take the match 21-10, 20-22, 21-14. On the other hand, Yamaguchi outclassed older compatriot Nozomi Okuhara 21-13, 11-21, 21-18 in her last-eight outing.
Yamaguchi had a glorious year in 2016 as the teenager won two Superseries titles (Korea and Denmark) and a good run in the season-ending Dubai Superseries Finals as well. The world number two has also started the season on a high, leading Japan to inaugural Asia Mixed Team Championships and followed it up with a German Grand Prix Gold title.
The rising Japanese star has also had a lot of success against the reigning Olympic champion as she defeated Marin twice last year. Also, the Spaniard was scheduled to take on Yamaguchi in the German Open final earlier this year but pulled out due to injury.
Given her recent form, Yamaguchi starts as favourite to reach the final match but Marin, who has not had the best of starts to the new season, can never be written off. Despite being title-less since her gold medal winning-run at the Rio Games, the world number three has come up with quite a few good performances and is slowly getting back to her best after suffering an early-season injury.
Marin had tremendous fan following during her visit to India earlier this year for the cash-rich Premier Badminton League and she is expected to have a good crowd support in New Delhi, which might work in her favour when she faces Yamaguchi today.
India: Star Sports
Malaysia: Astro Supersport
Singapore: Hub Sports 3