India's PV Sindhu didn't drop her guard against Hong Kong's Cheung Ngan Yi as she beat her 21-9, 21-16 comfortably in straight sets in her Group J encounter. With the victory, Sindhu has progressed to the knockout stages of the women's singles badminton competition at Olympics 2021.
She will face Denmark's Mia Blichfeldt in the elimination round. If Sindhu progresses to the quarter-finals, she will lock horns either with South Korea's Kim Ga-eun or Japan's Akane Yamaguchi.
Sindhu made the most of her placement to force Cheung to commit errors in the first set. Her judgment to leave the shuttle was spot on as she won multiple points from that fashion. Sindhu, slowly and steadily, extended her lead to six points at 15-9 and won six consecutive points to win the first set.
Cheung returned strongly in the second set, with the scoreline reading 11-10 in her favor at the break. However, Sindhu's South Korean coach Park Tae Sang's motivational pep talk changed the fortunes of the game.
PV Sindhu made the most of her experience to maintain her unbeaten streak against Cheung Ngan Yi
The game was evenly poised until 13-all but Sindhu ran away with the set from there on. Holding six match points in her hand at 20-14, Cheung made a return after winning two rallies. However, she had no answer to Sindhu's three consecutive forehand smashes towards the end of the contest.
Sindhu was always the favorite heading into the contest, holding a 5-0 head-to-head advantage over Cheung. Her main challenge will come in the semifinals where she is likely to face Chinese Taipei's Tai Tzu-ying.
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With both B Sai Praneeth and the men's doubles pair of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy knocked out of the Olympics 2021, Sindhu remains the only medal hopeful in Tokyo for the Indian badminton contingent. She has won a silver medal in the past (in Rio 2016) and will try her best to change it to gold this time.