Sensational Sindhu enters semifinals at Tokyo Olympics
Reigning world champion PV Sindhu kept India's hopes of winning a first-ever Olympic gold in badminton alive as she reached the semifinals of women's singles with a fighting straight-game win over world no. 5 Japanese Akane Yamaguchi on Friday. She will next face the winner of the other quarterfinal between Thailand's Ratchanok Inthanon and Chinese Taipei's Tai Tzu Ying.
She defended brilliantly; rode on her attacking all-round game
Sindhu, who won silver in the 2016 Rio Olympics, defended brilliantly and rode on her attacking all-round game to outclass the fourth-seeded Yamaguchi 21-13 22-20 in a 56-minute quarterfinal clash at the Musashino Forest Plaza. The sixth-seeded Indian came into the match with an 11-7 head-to-head count against Yamaguchi, whom she had last beaten at the All England Championship in March this year.
She brought out attacking smashes and half smashes
Yamaguchi tried to play an aggressive game but Sindhu held her ground and used her good anticipation and reach to stay ahead. The Indian brought out her attacking smashes and half smashes whenever there was a chance to put pressure on her rival.
Yamaguchi committed three back-to-back unforced errors
The opening game saw Sindhu quickly erase a 2-4 deficit to level the scores at 6-6. Yamaguchi committed three back-to-back unforced errors to allow the Indian to move ahead as Sindhu entered the interval at 11-7 with a cross-court smash. Sindhu eventually produced a winner near the net and grabbed the first game when Yamaguchi sent long a return to serve.
Sindhu seemed in total control; took a five-point advantage
Sindhu dictated the pace and seemed in total control, starting the second game with two superb smashes for a 2-0 early lead. A superb net dribble and a cross-court smash helped Sindhu to take a five-point advantage. However, Yamaguchi, lagging 8-13, grabbed eight of the next nine points to open up a slender one-point lead at 16-15 for the first time in the match.
A precise half smash handed Sindhu the match point
A superb net shot saw Yamaguchi grab two game points, fueling hope of a turnaround but Sindhu responded with authority. She unleashed a straight-down-the-line smash and then set up another point with a smash to make it 20-20. Another precise half smash down the line gave her a match point and she screamed her heart out in joy after Yamaguchi found the net next.
She is only Indian badminton player left in the competition
Notably, Sindhu is the lone Indian in the fray in badminton after men's singles player Sai Praneeth and the men's doubles pair of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy failed to qualify for the knockout stage.