Indian shuttler PV Sindhu has finally raised India’s hopes for a medal after qualifying for a semifinal clash in the women’s singles badminton event at Rio Games. Sindhu will now face Japanese Nozomi Okuhara on August 18. A medal is assured if Sindhu defeats Okuhara.
PV Sindhu cruised into the semis after defeating China’s Wang Yihan who won a silver at the London Games. Sindhu defeated Wang 22-20 21-19 in a gruelling battle lasting 54 minutes.
With this win, Sindhu became the second Indian badminton player to reach an Olympic semifinal after Saina Nehwal achieved the feat four years ago.
21-year-old Sindhu was elated after her win over the much experienced Wang. She said it was as one of the best moments of her career.
“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,” said Sindhu, who at present is World No 10.
It was a battle of nerves as the duo engaged in fast-paced rallies with each trying to close out the points.
“I was just thinking about the game. If you play really well you will automatically win the game, and a medal. I’m just focused on my match and the next match, the semis (against Okuhara). I hope I can give my best,” Sindhu said while talking about the pressure of winning the first medal for India at the Rio Olympics.
Sindhu who is a two-time World Championship bronze medallist had defeated Wang only twice before. Their head to head record stood at 2-4 before Tuesday’s clash.
“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,” Sindhu said in praise of Wang.
The opening game which lasted 29 minutes, Sindhu fought real hard to level the game at 20-20. Finally, Sindhu took two points to pocket the intense first game.
Throughout the game Sindhu maintained exceptional calm winning crucial points at regular intervals.
“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,” said Sindhu after the match.
Apart from Sindhu, India will be closely watching Kidambi Srikanth’s quarterfinal match on Wednesday evening. Srikanth will be facing 32-year-old Li Dan from China who has ruling the men’s singles title for the past two Olympics.
(With inputs from PTI)