Super Sindhu scales new heights

Super Sindhu scales new heights

Hyderabadi beats Okuhara to become first ever Indian woman to enter a summit tie at the Games

Super Sindhu scales new heights

 Momentum is everything in sport and P V Sindhu has it with her now.The Indian shuttler, in an irresistible run at the Olympic Games, is one step away from the ultimate prize. She is in the final of the women’s singles, with Carolina Marin of Spain being the only one standing between her and the gold medal.

In the semifinal at the Riocentro Pavilion on Thursday, Sindhu outgunned Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara 21-19, 21-10 in 50 minutes, taking time to gain control of the match and then exploding in spectacular fashion later on.

Marin, the world champion, defeated the defending champion, China’s Li Xuerui, 21-14, 21-16 in the first semifinal. The Chinese, troubled by a left knee injury, was not able to mount a serious challenge and by the end of the match, she was simply going through the motions.

Sindhu had beaten another Chinese -- the second seed -- Wang Yihan in the quarterfinals and the confidence she gained from that match was evident in the way she tackled Okuhara. The Japanese had won three of their four meetings but she encountered a different Sindhu on the day. The Indian was on a mission from the start. Okuhara didn’t seem to have come prepared for this kind of a threat and she was reduced to mere spectator by the end of the match.

“It wasn’t easy, I had to fight for each and every point. But I was very focused. Even when I was making unforced errors, my coach told me to keep calm. I have really worked hard to come this far and I am happy to have come through today,” said Sindhu.

In a closely fought first game, Sindhu seemed to have wrested control when she led 14-10. But the little Japanese, darting from side to side, refused to roll over. She clawed her way back and stayed close to the Indian.

Sindhu also made a few unforced errors which could have proved crucial but the Hyderabadi pulled herself together to move to 19-17 with a great crosscourt smash. With a clever drop, the Japanese made it 18-19 but conceded a game point by netting a return. Okuhara emerged topper in a long rally to make it 19-20 but smashed a return into the net to concede the first game in 27 minutes.

Okuhara started the second game well but Sindhu’s fire was to prove too hot for the Japanese. After 10-10, there was only one player in the game. As the Indian raced away, Okuhara’s shoulders dropped and errors came in a torrent from her racquet. A weak Japanese return set up match point for the Indian and she finished it off with a thundering smash, even as the cheering Indian supporters celebrated in the stands.

“Now the aim is to win the gold, I will play my heart out for it,” said an elated Sindhu. “Marin is a tough opponent, she is a left-hander and she is playing well at the moment. I will be prepared for everything, let’s hope for the best.”

Doubles delight for Japan

Later, Japan's Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi defeated Denmark's Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl to claim the women's doubles gold medal and secure their nation’s first ever badminton title.

The top-ranked Japanese had to fight for every point against the determined Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl and dug themselves out of a huge hole to win an 18-21, 21-9, 21-19 thriller at the Riocentro.

Result: Men: Doubles: Bronze medal match: Marcus Ellis/ Chris Langridge (GBR) bt Chai Biao/ Hong Wei (CHN) 21-18, 19-21, 21-10.

Women: Singles: semifinals: Carolina Marin (ESP) bt Li Xuerui (CHN) 21-14, 21-16; P V Sindhu (IND) bt Nozomi Okuhara (JPN) 21-19, 21-10.

Doubles: Final: Misaki Matsutomo/ Ayaka Takahashi (JPN) bt Christinna Pedersen. Kamilla Rytter Juhl (DAN) 18-21, 21-9, 21-19

Fast facts

Name: Pusarla Venkata Sindhu
Born: July 5, 1995 (21); Hyderabad, Telangana.
Singles ranking: 10
Made her international
debut at the age of 17.
Is a two-time bronze medallist in the singles of the World Championships (2013, 2014).
Won the bronze medal at Commonwealth Games (2014) and Asia Championships (2014).
Won the gold at Commonwealth Youth Games (2011).
Is the first Indian singles player to win a medal at the World Championships.
Is the first Indian woman to reach the final of an event at the Olympics.

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