Executing her plan to perfection, PV Sindhu edged past Akane Yamaguchi to enter the women’s singles semi-finals at the Tokyo Olympics.
Rio Games silver medalist Sindhu came up with a terrific performance to outclass Akane Yamaguchi of Japan 21-13, 22-20 in an exciting quarter-final match.
Pre-match expectations of an intense fight proved correct as sixth seed Sindhu had to stretch fully to down World No. 5 Yamaguchi. After winning the opening game quite comfortably, World No. 7 Sindhu was poised to wrap up the match quickly by building up a sizable lead in the second game too. However, 24-year-old Yamaguchi staged a remarkable comeback and almost took the match into the third game.
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The former World No. 1 Yamaguchi had a couple of game points to her credit but she could not utilize her opportunities against the 26-year-old Sindhu.
Reigning world champion Sindhu will now take on World No. 1 Tai Tzu-Ying of Chinese Taipei for a spot in successive Olympic finals. Top seed Tai Tzu-Ying rallied to beat Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon 14-21, 21-18, 21-18 in the other quarterfinal
1. Sindhu extended her domination against Yamaguchi
One of the longest rivalries of the women’s singles on the BWF international circuit, Sindhu and Yamaguchi were playing their 18th match against each other. Having played for so long, both of them knew each other’s game quite well.
Sindhu is two rungs below in the international ranking but she has an upper hand over her Japanese rival. It was the twelfth victory for Sindhu over Yamaguchi and perhaps the most important one in her career.
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Sindhu defeated Yamaguchi at the same stage in the All England Championship in March 2021 to enter the semis in three games. Similarly, Sindhu ousted her diminutive rival to storm into the last-four stage of the Olympics, this time in 2 games. Coach Park Tae-Sang of Korea’s guidance seemed to have been working for Sindhu as she looked quite impressive in all her four wins in the Tokyo Olympics.
2. Sindhu took advantage of her height and big reach against tiny Yamaguchi
Sindhu used her giant height of 5 feet 11 inches to good effect against the tiny Yamaguchi, who stands 5 feet and 1 inch. Sindhu’s giant strides and huge reach helped her pick up the shuttle early and place it wherever she wanted. The Indian ace knew Yamaguchi’s weak points and capitalized on them.
Sindhu exploited Yamaguchi’s poor start and raced away to win in the first game. Although the home favorite tried to fight her way back in the second game, Sindhu kept her composure and did not allow the match to go into the decider. Yamaguchi was known for her brilliant retrieving ability but she was exposed by Sindhu in the flat game.
3. Sindhu's never-say-die attitude to the fore
In the past, we have often seen Sindhu dominating the match early but faltering towards the end. She has the knack of prolonging the match into the third game and not closing the issue in her favor in straight games. Against Yamaguchi also, she was guilty of stretching the matches into the three games.
However, Sindhu displayed that never-say-die attitude today and did not allow the match to go into the decider. Many thought that "Sindhu Syndrome" would begin when she allowed Yamaguchi to bounce back after leading quite comfortably initially in the second game.
Sindhu’s determination stood out as despite trailing by a couple of game points she believed in herself and clinched the extended game to shatter the hopes of the dangerous Japanese.