India’s P V Sindhu showed remarkable skills to upset world number two Wang Yihan of China in the badminton women’s singles quarter-finals to enter the semi-finals of the Rio 2016 Olympics. Sindhu won the thrilling, but tiring, match in straight sets (22-20, 21-19) dominating her opponent with attacking play.
The 21-year-old World No 10 took nearly an hour to overcome the stiff challenge from the London 2012 silver medallist, showing excellent fitness, movement, defence and smashing skills.
With the win, Sindhu became only the second Indian women’s player to reach the semi-final of Olympic Games after Saina Nehwal at the 2012 London Games.
Asked about her initial feelings, Sindhu said: “This is also Rio Olympics, it’s a very different feeling. It’s one of the best moments. I hope there will be many more to come,” World No 10 said after her 22-20 21-19 victory to become second Indian after Saina Nehwal to reach last four at Olympics.
“There were big rallies, she was attacking well. My smashes were going out initially. Even she did not leave and she was lifting everything. I was really patient and I was ready for everything, which I feel was the turning point.”
“I never thought I would lose this, because any moment anything can change. It was not so easy to get points, both of us fought for every point. It was very close. In the first game, it was 20-all and I felt even though I was leading I never thought the game was over. She came really close, even she played brilliantly,” she said.
The first set was dominated by Wang in the first half as she went into the break leading 11-8, but Sindhu came back stronger and made it 14-14 before running away to a lead of 20-17. Wang made a late comeback to tie it 20-20 but Sindhu kept her cool to win it 22-20. Both players showed great skills and made use of their long reach and height. It was neck-to-neck in the first set. Wang looked a better player, but the momentum shifted in Sindhu’s favour at the end of that set.
Sindhu carried that momentum in the second set and raced to a 8-3 lead and at the break she led 11-8 before Wang showed great defence which frustrated Sindhu. The score was tied 13-13 when Sindhu opened up a five-point advantage. She was running away with the set and led her opponent 18-13 with some brilliant cross-court smashes. Wang was up for a fight and she scored six consecutive points to lead 19-18. That was the last point she scored.
Sindhu is now a win away from assuring India a medal in the women’s singles category. If she wins her semi-final, she plays the gold medal match, which assures at least a silver for India. If she loses, she would have to play a bronze medal play-off with the loser of other semi-final. She plays her semi-final against Nozomi Okuhara of Japan on Thursday.