A demolition job was underway on Thursday evening in the Brazilian capital of Rio de Janeiro. And no, it wasn’t taking place in the tattered parts of the city that the officials have cleverly covered with a Potemkin wall but in the fourth pavilion of Riocentro as PV Sindhu smashed her way to history by becoming the first Indian to enter the Badminton finals in Olympics.
World number 6 Nozomi Okuhara clearly didn’t see what was coming her way and was blindsided by the Sindhu storm that struck her in the semi-final of the Women’s singles Badminton in Rio Olympics. The Japanese was under the pump right from the beginning and lost in straight sets to PV Sindhu who marched into the finals 21-19, 21-10.
Here is how things panned out in a match that will be remembered for long for bringing cheer to many Indian faces.
After a long wait, the match finally started with PV Sindhu serving first up.
First honours, however, were taken by the Japanese Nozomi Okuhara as she got into the lead.
First of many mistakes by the Japanese as she loses a review when the referee declared the shuttlecock fell inside the line. Sindhu 2-1 in lead.
Sidhu brings out her fist pump celebration as she moves into a comfortable lead.
With her right thigh strapped, the Japanese couldn’t be the most agile on court. Yet, she was giving it her all to make Sindhu stretch. Closes in on Sindhu to make it 5-3.
Sindhu’s height proved to give an advantage to the Indian badminton star as she used it to stretch her opponent to the max. Okuhara took a tumble quite often in the game.
However, the silly mistakes were still hurting the Indian as she would often concede free points to the Japanese by netting some of her shot. The lead, though, was still hers.
But thankfully for the Indian, the errors were followed by brilliant smashes and the Indian was now up by 4 points at 10-6.
A scoreline of 11-6 at the break completely showed her dominance and stranglehold over the game and out came the fist pump and the ‘come on’ shout.
The Japanese came firing on all cylinders after the break and gave Sindhu some tensed moments. The lead was reduced to just two from five as the scoreboard read 11-9.
But the fire soon fizzled out as smashes were replaced by errors for the world number 8, giving Sindhu a sizeable lead once again. Sidhu was looking to make the first set her own as she stood at 14-11.
As Okuhara’s graph dipped, Sindhu upped the ante and was making her opponent struggle with her calculative defence and offence.
But the Japanese was not to give up any soon and gave Sindhu a hot pursuit as well as some anxious moments just as everyone thought she will race to win the first set. At 18-17, the Japanese was just one point away from turning the tables on the Indian.
The Indian also looked nervous in the face of a counterattack from Okuhara and a slip up looked on cards although the lead was kept intact even if slender one.
But the Indian managed to regain her composure and won the first set 21-19 despite a good fight put up from Okuhara.
And the roaaaaaaaaaaar that could be heard till Hyderabad was back!
A dejected looking Okahura looked determined to put up a better show and put the first set loss behind.
The second set began. However, in the same fashion as the first ended, as the 21-year-old Indian looked on a roll. In no time, Sindhu was up 3-0.
Okuhara was looking to turn the tide again and got some quick points on the bounce.
The Japanese brought the scores level at 3-3 and it looked for a while that she would not easily give the second set away.
And after the equaliser, she even went on to take the lead as an overexcited Sindhu made some errors to make things difficult for herself. The score read 5-3 and this time in the favour of Japanese.
Sindhu seized the advantage back from the Japanese and the score was once again equal at 5-5. This was a comeback that deserved the fist pump and “the come on”. And Sindhu certainly didn’t disappoint.
Okuhara raised her game once again and ran two points ahead of the Indian to make it 7-5 in her favour. She wasn’t going anywhere. Not so soon, at least.
The second set became exciting as none of the the players were ready to give an inch. It became 7-7 and soon 8-8 and 10-10 as well.
The need of the hour was for Sindhu to calm down and minimise her errors and wait for the opponent to show signs of physical and mental exhaustion.
After regaining her calm, Sindhu went berserk and gave her everything to start a session of play that would go down as one of the most memorable ones in Olympic history.
Suddenly, the Japanese had no answer to the volleys that Sindhu was firing. The scorecard was rising up on one side in every minute. Okuhara’s score remained stuck at 10.
And the Riocentre reverberated with roar after roar from the new star of Indian Badminton who inched closer to glory with her every point.
The final and the most fierce of the roars was reserved for the celebration of winning the match and she won it handsomely as she didn’t concede a single point after her 10th. PV Sindhu had won and moved straight to the finals, assuring India of a silver at least.
A friendly handshake with the woman who she had demolished seconds ago and Sindhu walked away with smiles.