GoBadminton desk Image Courtesy:
Reuters/ Hammad Mohammad
30 Jul, 2021
There’s a reason why PV Sindhu is such a force in women’s badminton, she’s one player you cannot write off on the big stage – she can have an ordinary run of tournaments, form, and results but cometh the big stage and she seldom fails to deliver.
On Friday, as Sindhu stood up to the challenge of Akane Yamaguchi in the QFs of the Women’s Singles in Tokyo, everyone expected a stiffer challenge than Sindhu has been subjected to so far in the Olympics.
For a game and a half however, the challenge for Sindhu, and the classic for the fans never quite materialized. Sindhu was in her elements, ran the opponent ragged and did not let Yamaguchi settle down into a rhythm that would cause any concerns for the Indian. A 21-13 first game, and a 14-8 in the second – it seemed like Sindhu was sailing into the semifinals without much of a resistance.
And yet, out of nowhere – Yamaguchi found the resolve, the strength and skill to first match Sindhu and then even overtake her at one point. Sindhu’s six-point lead and with it her composure seemed to melt into the hollowed arena, as the locals & the neutrals clearly would have liked to see a decider. Sindhu was beginning to get a little pensive, an unforced error here and there, and an unsuccessful challenge while at it – for a brief period nothing quite went in favor of Sindhu and a decider did seem inevitable.
At 18-20, Yamaguchi had both the game points and the momentum on her side but that is exactly when the big match player Sindhu found her true credentials. She saved the two game points, earned herself a match point and killed the game at the first instance of asking.
Jubiliation writ large on the faces of Sindhu’s coach Park Te Sang, told a story in its own way, with Sindhu both relieved and pumped to have closed the match in straight games. It will be Tai Tzu Ying in the semifinals of the women’s singles, and on this form with this kind of result under her belt – a second straight Olympics final appearance wouldn’t be too far-fetched a dream for the Indian.