Marin in a hurry
Olympic champion demolishes Rio final opponent, sets up s-final tie against South Korean Sung
There was no question about who the majority of the 5,500-strong crowd at the Indoor Stadium supported at yesterday's OUE Singapore Open.
Handmade posters that spelt "India" dotted the 12,000-seater venue, while thunderous applause met almost every point India's PV Sindhu made against Spain's Carolina Marin in their women's singles quarter-final.
But, it was the piercing war cry of Olympic champion Marin, 23, that reverberated in the cavenous arena most often, as the world No. 2 cruised to a 21-11, 21-15 win over her world No. 5 opponent, in just 35 minutes.
"I was really focused on what I had to do and I pushed hard from the beginning of the game," said Marin, who beat Sindhu 19-21, 21-12, 21-15 to win the Olympic gold in Rio de Janeiro last year.
"I really want to beat her today, I did my best and I was really happy with my performance today."
After the Olympic win, Marin suffered two successive losses to the 21-year-old Indian, the latest a 21-19, 21-16 reverse at the India Open earlier this month.
But the Huelva-born shuttler conjured a perfect blend of aggression, feather-soft drop-shots and lightning movement around Court 1 yesterday, while Sindhu was at times found wanting at the net.
Said Sindhu: "At the start, I gave her a huge lead, so by the time I wanted to catch up, she finished off that set.
I really want to beat her today, I did my best and I was really happy with my performance.World No. 2 Carolina Marin on her win over PV Sindhu
"In the second game also, I gave her a huge lead, and by the time I came close, I was hitting net cords.
"There were simple errors on my side also and I think it was not my day."
Marin faces South Korean Sung Ji Hyun in the last four today, while world No. 1 Tai Tzu-ying faces Zhang Beiwen in the other semi-final.
"It will be very tough against Sung Ji Hyun, but I will do my best and enjoy the court with this crowd, it's amazing," said the Spaniard," who waved to and hit a shuttle into the crowd after yesterday's match.
A rematch of the Malaysia Open final, where Tai beat Marin, is on the cards, judging by the way both shuttlers are playing in the US$350,000 (S$489,000) tournament.
RETURN TO FORM
For Marin, it is a welcome return to form, after she was dogged by injuries after last year's Olympics.
She said: "I am getting back, I really feel confident with myself about what I have to do on court, about my game.
"Today, I really proved to myself that I can do it... I want to fight for the title here."
Asked by The New Paper if she's getting back to top form, she simply said: "I think so."
Breakthrough for lone ranger Zhang
She may have left Singapore five years ago for the United States, but shuttler Zhang Beiwen still has a soft spot for the Republic.
Yesterday, the 26-year-old China-born Singaporean was momentarily lost for words, after beating Japan's world No. 4 Akane Yamaguchi 21-15, 21-23, 21-19 in the OUE Singapore Open women's singles quarter-finals at the Indoor Stadium.
"I am really happy, this is the first time I will be playing in the semi-finals in the Singapore Open," said the world No. 13.
Zhang, who moved to Singapore at age 13 but fell out with then-national singles coach Luan Ching in 2011, could have won the game in straight sets yesterday, but was forced to the rubber by Yamaguchi, 19, who rallied late in the second set.
"I've beaten her before but she's really hard to play against. She could reach all my shots and I had to be really, really patient," said Zhang, who reached the quarter-finals last year.
"In the second set, I was leading by a lot and I really wanted to win so, when she caught up, I felt really nervous and couldn't win the set."
"For the third set, I just prayed that it wouldn't happen again," she added with a laugh.
Yamaguchi was gracious in defeat.
I don't have any pressure, I am always alone and by myself... and I have nothing to lose.Zhang Beiwen
She said: "The opponent was really good this time... I was a bit nervous playing against her because she could receive all my shots.
"I had no idea what to do but I kept on playing."
The last time Zhang beat Yamaguchi, the Singaporean went on to the French Open SuperSeries final last October, when she lost 21-9, 21-9 to China's He Bingjiao.
But Zhang was cautious in predicting a similar run at the Indoor Stadium, as she will meet world No. 1 Tai Tzu-ying in today's semi-finals.
Tai, 22, beat Japan's Sayaka Sato 21-14, 21-19 yesterday.
Zhang said: "It's been a long time since I've played against Tai Tzu-ying and I will just try my best.
"Every match is important to me because I don't have much training, so every match I have to be very focused as I don't have many chances to play against the world's top 10 players," added Zhang, who does not have a coach and works part-time as one.
"But I don't have any pressure, I am always alone and by myself... and I have nothing to lose." - LIM SAY HENG