Jakarta, World number 3 P V Sindhu survived mid game scare before ousting arch rival Akane Yamaguchi of Japan 2-1 to become first Indian player make it to final of Badminton competition at the Asian Games here on Monday.
Earlier, any hope of all India final in the Asian Games evaporated when Saina Nehiwal suffered her 10th straight defeat to world number one Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei.The Indian failed to break the jinx again top seed going down 17-21, 14-21 in 37 minutes.
Sindhu played aggressively to overcome Yamaguchi in a marathon match 21-17,15-21,21-10 which lasted 69 minutes to record her second win over the Japanese at the Asian Games, having beaten her in the team championship as well. In the process the 23- year old Indian also took a sweet revenge of her defeat which suffered at the hands of Yamaguchi in All England semi finals early this year.
Sindhu will now take on Tzu Ying in the final with the hope of giving India’s first ever individual gold in badminton.Sindhu despite having advantage of height and powerful returns was taken to length by stocky Japanese. The Hyderabadi girl took time to settle down. She was bit tentative to start with as she committed many a unforced errors.
The Indian, however, regrouped herself quickly to regain the control of the proceedings .The Japanese tried to unnerve Sindhu as she attacked from the start. However, Sindhu took advantage of her height and countered her rival’s strokes with ease.
Rio Olympic silver medallist dominated the court with her swift movement and to take 11-8 lead at first break. She was solid at the net, and with powerful strokes and returns gave no quarter to her short stature rival who in desperation committed several unforced errors.
The Indian sealed the game when she led 20-17 and Yamaguchi returned the smash wide. In the second game too Sindhu surprisingly looked tentative as she kept committed errors and lost the game 15-21.
However, Sindhu was in her usual attacking mode in the third game in which she virtually decimated her rival to win the game 21-10 and the match.
Sindhu will have to raise the bar against Tzying Tu in the final as she has lost to Chinese Taipei shuttler in the last few contests. “I played well though I lost the second game” Sindhu Said “It is a very tough tournament and every body plays for the cointry.’
“I know Yamaguch’s game and she also knows mine” Sindhu said adding “I played to plan though she managed to win the second game, This is all part of the sport”
She said she was thrilled that she will be playing final. To be first India to figure in a title clash in the Asian Games is a distinction and honour. ‘I know there are more expectations back home now’.
World number 10 Saina played with intensity but Tzu Ying, proved to be more agile and swift her court coverage and retrieving in the 32-minute contest.Coming into this match, Saina had lost last nine matches against Tzu Ying, including three in the 2018 season.
However, Saina will have the satisfaction of being the only the third Indian badminton player to win a medal-bronze -at the Asian Games. The first medal winner in the individual was Syed Modi in 1982. “Ying played much better “Saina admitted and added”, If I had worked harder, I could have given her a tougher fight,”.
“I was conceding errors and once she took a three point-lead, then it was tough to come back. She was on fire. She had lost in the World Championships (quarterfinals) to He Bingjiao, so she was trying to finish this match as quickly as possible,” said Saina.
Ying controlled the game and she knew the weak points of her rival which she exploited well. “I was focused and never lost my concentration” said Ying adding “Saina is not an easy player to beat”
“The draw was tough, I had to face the World No. 1 in the semi-finals, and when you’re not ranked higher, you might have to face the best players in the earlier rounds. I’m happy that I gave her a tough fight today. We came here well-prepared,” she added.