P. V. Sindhu had beaten Tai Tzu-ying in straight games on her way to the silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Tai Tzu –who has beaten Sindhu nine times since – got her ultimate revenge five years later as she stormed to a 21-18, 21-12 victory in their Tokyo Olympics semifinal clash at the Musashino Forest Plaza here on Saturday. 

Sindhu will have a shot at a second successive Olympic medal when she takes on China’s He Bingjao for the bronze medal match on Sunday. Tai Tzu will face another Chinese Chen Yufei in the final.

READ | PV Sindhu after semifinal defeat: I should have taken the first game

All the shuttlers who’ve played Tai Tzu know her not-so-secret weapon – her deceitful drops. Sindhu managed to counter it well in the opening game and ran to a 7-3 lead. But Tai Tzu being Tai Tzu, kept angling and slicing the shuttle like none other. Her angles were so fine, so acute – like the sword of a Japanese samurai.  

The Chinese Taipei shuttler made a comeback at 11-11 and dominated play by forcing Sindhu to play at the net. She stretched Sindhu, making her dart across the court, but the Indian used her phenomenal reach and athleticism to keep the rallies going. There was little to separate the two champions as they were locked at 17-17. Then came a twist that gave Tai Tzu the momentum, she profited from a point off the net cord. Tai Tzu wrapped up the game with a down-the-line forehand smash. 

Tokyo Olympics 2021 Badminton Highlights: Sindhu loses to Tai Tzu-Ying, fails to enter final

Sindhu began the second game well but was unable to settle into a rhythm and Tai Tzu took a four-point lead at 10-6. The World No. 1 stuck to her strength and restricted the game just around the net, forcing Sindhu to twist and turn to keep the shuttle in play. 

Tai Tzu opened an eight-point lead at 16-8 and offered no space for a Sindhu comeback. She secured the game 21-12 to reach her career’s maiden Olympic final. 

“It’s a bit sad that I am not on the winning side, but I have one more match to go so I need to keep my tempo going, recover soon and come back tomorrow,” said Sindhu, while adding that her opponent did particularly well to not commit unforced errors. 

Tai Tzu, too, felt that had a major impact on the game. “I didn’t make any major mistakes today. I’m a player who makes mistakes and that’s why I have pressure from within. Today, I reduced them and gave my best performance,” she said.