India’s PV Sindhu marched into the semifinals of the women’s singles badminton event at the 2016 Rio Olympics with a stunning 22-20, 21-19 win over World No.2 Wang Yihan of China.
The Indian showed great grit and determination, refusing to give up every time she had her back against the wall. The 21-year-old played an immaculate defensive game and made Wang Yihan work doubly hard for each and every point.
She also held her nerves and made very few errors, and showed some masterly skills at the net to put immense pressure on the Chinese.
It was a battle of nerves as the duo engaged in fast-paced rallies with each trying to close out the points. Some fierce stroke play was on display with the one having better control prevailing over the other.
“It could have been anybody’s game. I knew I would not get any easy points. I am taking one match at a time, rather than thinking of a medal. This was one of my memorable wins against Yihan. Hopefully there will be many more,” Sindhu told NDTV.
Sindhu started off slowly in the first game but soon found her groove to close the gap on the Chinese shuttler.
Sindhu showed some good judgement and accumulated points riding on her opponents unforced errors but Wang still entered the break with a 11-8 lead.
Sindhu, who had beaten Wang in the Denmark Open last year, grabbed three straight points to make it 11-12 but left a shuttle at the baseline next. The Indian levelled at 13-13 when Wang hit the shuttle wide.
Sindhu tried to make Wang cover longest distances by pushing her to the back corner and then drawing her forward to the net, earning her a few points. The Indian used her reach to play some reverse angled strokes to catch Wang off guard and grabbed the lead when the Chinese found the net.
At 18-18, Sindhu won a video referral to get two crucial game point advantage after once again Wang’s return smashed into the net. What came next was the longest rally which ended with Wang winning the point with a forehand return at the back of the court.
Sindhu’s cross court returns set up the next point for her and then she earned the bragging rights when Wang missed the line once again.
She showed some great defensive skills to take the first game 22-20.
Sindhu came out all guns blazing in the second game and opened up a 5-2 lead against her Chinese opponent. She led 11-8 at the break as the majority Indian crowd present in the stadium egged her on.
The Indian shuttler was leading 18-13 and it seemed the semi-final spot was just within her grasp when Wang Yihan hit back to win the next six points.
Trailing 18-19, Sindhu regained her composure to win the next three points and bag the win to become the second Indian badminton player to reach an Olympic semi-final after Saina Nehwal achieved the feat four years ago.