Sindhu scripts another piece of history

WAR CRY India's PV Sindhu celebrates after defeating Akane Yamaguchi in the women's singles semifinal on Monday. REUTERS

 With a cracker of a smash down the line and a scream of delight, P V Sindhu announced the breaking of another barrier for Indian badminton.

Sindhu, India’s first Olympic silver medallist in the sport and also a two-time World Championship silver medallist, will be fighting for gold on Tuesday in Asian Games badminton, after entering the final with a 21-17, 15-21, 21-10 win over Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi on Monday.

India have never won a brighter medal than bronze in badminton singles at the Asian Games. Sindhu, the first Indian to make the final of Asiad badminton, will change it come Tuesday, when she lines up against world number one Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei, the conqueror of the other Indian in the semifinals, Saina Nehwal.

Saina used all the tricks in her bag against Tai but had to settle for bronze medal after losing 17-21, 14-21 in the first semifinal at the GBK Indoor stadium. The Chinese Taipei shuttler was too good on the day and she will certainly start the favourite against Sindhu in the final, not just because she enjoys a formidable record against the Indian.

Tai has a 9-3 win-loss record against Sindhu and has won their last five meetings but it is the level at which she plays that gives her the edge. “She mixes things up, there is no pattern to the rallies and suddenly she can increase the pace of the game and rush through the last few points. She is a very difficult opponent to play, a complete player,” Saina said after her semifinal loss. Saina did not play badly at all but Tai played better and whenever the Indian threatened to come close, the latter would drift away tantalisingly, almost like a mirage.

Sindhu would be aware of that and needs to be at the very top of her game. Having started the tournament slowly, the third seed has improved steadily but her tendency to relax the grip when on the ascendancy came to the fore against Yamaguchi.

Sindhu was very much in control after winning the first game against the second seed and at 10-6 in the second, a straight-game rout seemed in store. But Yamaguchi claimed six points in a row to pull away as Sindhu began to waver. The Indian then asserted herself in the decider, taking an early lead and powering through even as a weary Yamaguchi virtually gave up the chase nearing the end.

Sindhu, so often the silver-winner, said she will be prepared for a tough final. “It will be a difficult match but I have a strategy and hope to do well." Having already created history several times over, Sindhu has a chance to script a better piece on Tuesday.

The men’s final will be between Indonesia’s Jonathan Christie and Chinese Taipei’s Chou Tienchen. Christie defeated Kenta Nishimoto of Japan 21-15, 15-21, 21-19 while Tienchen prevented an all-Indonesian final by knocking out Anthony Ginting 21-16, 21-23, 21-17.

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Sindhu scripts another piece of history

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