Sensational Sindhu enters semifinals

Tokyo, Jul 30 (PTI): Reigning world champion PV Sindhu kept alive India’s hopes of a first-ever Olympic gold in badminton by reaching the semifinals of the women’s singles with a straight-game win over world No.5 Japanese Akane Yamaguchi here on Friday.
The 26-year-old Indian, who won a silver in the 2016 Rio Olympics, defended brilliantly and rode on her attacking all-round game to outclass the fourth seeded Yamaguchi 21-13 22-20 in a 56-minute quarterfinal clash at the Musashino Forest Plaza here.
“The first game was mostly under my control. I was gaining the lead but I didn’t take it easy because in her previous matches she came back. But I maintained the lead and finished it off,” Sindhu, seeded sixth, said.
“In the second game I was leading but then she came back. But I still fought back, I never lost hope and I continued with the same tempo. I am very much happy with the way I controlled the shuttle, not many errors,” she added.
Yamaguchi had scripted a late comeback in the second game, grabbing two game points but Sindhu ensured there were no hiccups, registering her 12th win over Yamaguchi in 19 meetings. She had last beaten the Japanese at the All England Championship in March this year. “I wasn’t nervous even though she was at game point, my coach was saying: ‘It’s okay, keep the focus and you’ll get there’. He was constantly supporting me and that got me by and I’m happy I got back in two games,” Sindhu said.
“I have really worked hard for this and it is not over it. For me it’s time to go back, relax and get ready for the next match. I’m happy but I need to prepare for the next match.”
Sindhu will next face second seed Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying, who edged out Thailand’s Ratchanok Inthanon 14-21 21-18 21-18 in another quarterfinal match.
China’s Chen Yu Fei and He Bing Jiao are the other two semifinalists.
The world No 1 Tai Tzu, whom coach Park Tae-sang considers as Sindhu’s biggest rival, has an overwhelming 13-7 advantage against the Indian.
Sindhu, who has lost to Tai Tzu in last three occasions, however, has managed to outwit the Taiwanese shuttler in important events such as the 2016 Rio Games, 2019 World Championships and 2018 World Tour Finals.

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