Sindhu sails into final, assures India another medal

P. V. Sindhu made her way to the gold medal match of the women's badminton event after a convincing win over her Japanese rival, Nozomi Okuhara.

P. V. Sindhu... a memorable performance.   -  AP

It was a sprint to the finish by P. V. Sindhu as she confirmed at least a silver medal in badminton with a 21-19, 21-10 victory over Okuhara Nozomi of Japan in the women’s singles semifinal at the Riocentro Pavilion on Thursday.

READ: >Sindhu - Shuttling between studies and badminton

In an unexpected climax, in which Sindhu was at her brilliant best, the 21-year-old smacked a flurry of winners, with a backhand effort standing out, as she reeled off 11 points on the trot, after the two were tied at 10 in the second game.

After an intense battle in the first game, when Sindhu just about managed to keep her nose ahead against the probing game of the Japanese, who sent her running to every inch of space on court, it was an unexpected bonanza for the spectators, who were chanting India, India, India… as if it was a mantra.

ALSO READ: >Sindhu's parents all praise for Gopi

Sindhu has the good habit of playing the shuttle on its merit rather than playing the reputation of her opponent. She made a confident start and kept the lead for long, before the short-built Japanese caught up in the first game. At the crunch, Sindhu unleashed ferocious strokes that made the difference.

Even though she did make a few mistakes, Sindhu stuck to her game plan, and kept answering all the queries posed by the Japanese, before stepping up on the gas, and mowing her down.

>Then and now: Sindhu keeps soaring higher

Sindhu did well to remain alert, not getting carried away after her memorable win over Olympic silver medallist and World No. 2 Wang Yihan of China in the earlier round.

With P. Gopichand providing the right guidance and pepping her up from the courtside, ensuring that she retained the intensity and focus throughout, irrespective of the flow of the match, there was no doubt that Sindhu was easily the better player on view.

World No.1 Carolina Marin of Spain had earlier beaten Li Xuerui of China 21-14, 21-16. The Chinese was bothered by a painful knee towards the end, but the Spaniard had already gained a stranglehold over the match.

Read: >Sindhu’s win: a Twitter explosion

Sindhu will look to set the record straight against Carolina, who has a >4-3 win-loss record against her. Sindhu had won the first two encounters, before the Spaniard won the next three. Sindhu defeated her in the Denmark Open over three games in October 2015, before Carloina asserted her supremacy again in Hong Kong, later in the year.

Past records will count for nothing when the two players fight for the gold medal. >Read: Sindhu on her chances in the final