The 26-year-old Sindhu, the only Indian to win the prestigious title in 2018 and a finalist a year earlier, beat Germany’s world No. 23 Yvonne Li 21-10, 21-13 in 31 in their second Group A game minutes and secured a win place in the top two.
The reigning world champion will next face top seed Pornpawee Chochuwong of Thailand in her final group match.
Lakshya, who was guaranteed a place in the semifinals after two of his Group A opponents – Japan’s Kento Momota and Denmark’s Rasmus Gemke – were eliminated through injury, lost to Olympic champion Viktor Axelsen 15-21, 14-21.
20-year-old @lakshya_sen played beautifully and made WR-1 Tokyo Olympic Champion 🇩🇰 Viktor Axelsen work hard for everyone… https://t.co/mUl9qvhY5d
— BAI Media (@BAI_Media) 1638445910000
After the defeat, the 20-year-old from Almora finished second in the group.
🇮🇳 @Pvsindhu1 Marches to Semifinals at #BWFWorldTourFinals2021 💥2️⃣ Time Olympic Medalist joined SF for th… https://t.co/y76dbwGNgI
— BAI Media (@BAI_Media) 1638438377000
Earlier, world No. 14 Kidambi Srikanth, who reached the knockout stage in the 2014 edition of the year-ending event, had his chances to advance to the next round on the line after winning 18-21, 7-21 to become the three-time world junior champion Champion Thailand’s Kunlavut Vitidsarn went down in his second match in Group B men’s singles.
The Indian women’s doubles Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy also suffered a defeat and had to admit defeat with 19:21, 20:22 against the Bulgarians Gabriela Stoeva and Stefani Stoeva.
The Indian duo meet England’s Chloe Birch and Lauren Smith in their final Group B game.
The top men’s pairs, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, handed top seeded Indonesian pairing Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo a bye after the former complained of knee pain. The duo will not accept further participation in the tournament.
Sindhu looked in good rhythm and played with good pace, engaging her rival in short rallies and soon taking a 5-1 lead before going into half-time with a six-point lead.
The Indian took the initiative and produced some well-angled returns to worry her opponent.
Soon Sindhu got to 10 game points with a precise down-the-line smash, then pocketed the opening game with a deceptive net shot.
After the break, Li put on a better show, but Sindhu ensured she had the edge at the break as she led 11-8.
Sindhu ruled the quarters after the resumption and unleashed her Smashes to collect winners.
The Indian eventually grabbed seven match points as Li went wide and sealed it after her opponent sent the shuttle long again.
It was Srikanth’s third loss to Vitidsarn after losing to him in last year’s Sudirman Cup and Asia Team Championships.
In Group B, second-placed Malaysian Lee Zii Jia leads by two points, while Srikanth and Vitidsarn shared a point after winning and losing.
While Srikanth meets Lee Zii Jia in his third match, Vitidsarn meets Frenchman Toma Junior Popov.
The winner finishes in the top 2 and qualifies for the knockout round. If both win their respective games, it comes down to the number of games won and lost.
Fast-rising world No. 23 Vitidsarn was rewarded for his diligence and flawless defense as he didn’t allow Srikanth to launch his attack. There was never a lack of commitment from Srikanth but his younger rival was much better that day.
Vitidsarn had taken an early 5-2 lead and went into the break with a healthy 11-6 lead. A six-point burst allowed Srikanth to narrow it down to 13-15, but the Thais again marched up to 19-14 and quickly pocketed the opening game.
In the second game it was a one-way street as Srikanth just couldn’t keep up with his rival and the rallies where he seemed to annoy his opponent ended up making unforced errors.
The game was stopped due to poor visibility with Srikanth trailing 6-13 but it didn’t matter as Vitidsarn finished the game by taking the next 8 points.
On Wednesday, Lakshya, the youngest Indian to qualify for the year-end tournament, reached the semifinals after his opponent Momota retired with a back injury and Gemke, also in Group A, conceded his match against Axelsen with a knee injury.