Shuttler PV Sindhu raised serious hopes of breaking India's long-awaited medal quest in the Rio Olympics by storming into the semi-finals of the women's singles event with a stunning straight games win over London Games silver medallist Wang Yihan of China, here.
In the semi-finals, Sindhu will face Nozomi Okuhara of Japan.
World No.10 Sindhu registered a 21-19, 21-10 triumph in the semi-finals over world No.6 Okuhara to become the first Indian shuttler to enter the final of the Olympics.
Sakshi climbed the medal rostrum with a spectacular come-from-behind 8-5 win over Aisuluu Tynybekova of Kyrgyzstan after trailing 0-5 in the first period. That was truly one of the best moments of her career. The Japanese made a desperate dive, but she failed to return it. "Best of luck for the finals", tweeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi. "Even though I was leading she came back". "I was really patient and I was ready for everything, which I feel was the turning point". Wang looked an improved player, but the momentum changed at the conclusion of that set in Sindhu's favour.
Before she left for China, her parents had taken her to watch Bhaag Milkha Bhaag.
"If there was a turning point it was that I was really patient".
Vijaya dedicated the victory to coach Gopichand and all Indians. Her win is also creditable as she was playing under tremendous expectations and pressure.
"Last few days reminded me of my Olympic days".
Afterwards, what followed was a screaming celebration from Sindhu and her camp. The Chinese then roared back when Sindhu hit the nets.
The former All England Open champion asserted that Sindhu can challenge the best shuttlers in the world on a regular basis if she manages to become more consistent. She was all praise for her performance.
It was good (the win against Wang Yihan) but in my book she can do a notch higher. The first Indian in an Olympics badminton final - say it again, and let the words roll of your tongue as you do.
With an impressive opening in the second game, Sindhu scored 8-3 lead.
The daughter of two volleyball players in southern India, Sindhu began playing badminton at the age of eight.
Later, Sindhu took a 15-12 lead that became 17-14 but Okuhara's net game helped her nearly reduce the deficit.
The Indian, however, held her nerves and kept her three-point lead going till 18-15.
Another unforced error from Sindhu saw the Chinese regain the lead nearly immediately.
At times aggression can take you places.
Sindhu's fitness has been incredible during the tournament and that can work to her advantage against Okuhara.
A couple of consecutive points saw Sindhu gon into game point at 20-18. At this juncture Okuhara picked up two points to stay put in the game at 17-18.
Wang then drew level thanks to another unforced error by her opponent. In the second set of the game, she won 10 points without gap after the half points break to win against Okuhara. The score was tied 13-13 when Sindhu opened up a five-point advantage. But the 21-year-old from Hyderabad was in superb form and dominated her opponent throughout the match. She was awarded the FICCI Breakthrough Sportsperson of the Year in 2014 and NDTV Indian of the Year 2014, the year in which she won her second consecutive medal at the World Championships.
"I will prepare well for Marin", a exhausted but a very happy Sindhu signed off.
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