PV Sindhu missed out on an opportunity to reach her second successive Olympic final as she lost the badminton women’s singles semi-final to World No. 1 Tai Tzu Ying, who wielded magic with her racket on Saturday in Tokyo.
t was not meant to be for PV Sindhu. The Rio Olympic silver medalist was denied a second successive Olympic finial berth by World No. 1 Tai Tzu Ying who wielded magic with her racket in the women’s singles badminton semi-final at the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday.
PV Sindhu lost the semi-final to the Taiwanese star 18-21, 12-21 in 40 minutes, making it 4 straight loses to the numero uno. While Sindhu suffered a heartbreak, it was a moment of redemption for Tai who reached her maiden Olympic final.
Rio #Olympics 🥈medalist @Pvsindhu1 put all she had but goes down 18-21,12-21 against world no. 1 Chinese Taipei's Tai Tzu Ying in semifinal of @Tokyo2020 She'll play 🥉medal match against 🇨🇳's HE Bing Jiao #SmashfortheGlory#badminton#Tokyo2020#Cheer4India#TeamIndia pic.twitter.com/8VK5aDpv4h
— BAI Media (@BAI_Media) July 31, 2021
PV Sindhu still has the opportunity to become only the 2nd Indian athlete after wrestler Sushil Kumar to win two individual Olympic medals. Sushil won the wrestling bronze in 2008 and followed it up with a silver in 2012.
Following the defeat to the magical Tai Tzu Ying, Sindhu is all set to face China’s He Bingjiao in the bronze medal match on Sunday.
Tai has never been on the Olympic podium. Unlike many of her decorated counterparts, the 27-year-old does not have a world championships medal too. But she will be out to rewrite history on Sunday when she takes on China’s Chen Yufei in the gold medal match.
The Taiwan magician in full flow
Tai trailed for the most part of the first game. She went into the mid-game interval of the first game at 8-11. But at no point, it looked like she had allowed Sindhu to dominate. The Indian superstar had begun brightly with a stunning cross-court smash and a lift from a defensive position that gave Tai a taste of her own medicine.
But that was probably the last time Sindhu was allowed to smash the way she usually does as Tai controlled the rally and made sure she took out the Indian’s biggest weapon.
Some of those slice drops from Tai, as pointed out by the on-air commentators, should certainly be outlawed!
Sindhu had beaten Tai at the world championships in 2019 and the BWF World Tour Finals in 2018 and on both those occasions, she had come back after losing the first game. But on Saturday, Tai gave her no chance to do so, taking her head-to-head against the Indian to 14-5 in 19 meetings.
The second game looked like a stroll in the park for Tai Tzu Ying. The Taiwan star was hitting winners at will. The only indecision she had to face, on most occasions, was to decide which one of her innumerable options she would execute to take down Sindhu. There was so much variety with Tai-like precision that Sindhu had no answers.
Sindhu falls short of joining Olympic elite
Sindhu missed an opportunity to become the only 3rd women’s singles player to reach successive Olympic finals. The 26-year-old won the silver at the Rio Games 5 years ago, going down in a hard-fought gold medal match against Spain’s Carolina Marin who pulled out of Tokyo 2020 with an ACL injury.
The only two women to reach two Olympic finals are Bong Soo-hyun of South Korea — Silver in 1992, Gold in 1996 and Zhang Ning of China – Gold medals in 2004 and 2008 Games.
Can Sindhu cap off a superb Olympics campaign with a medal?
There were doubts over Sindhu’s form in the lead up to the Games as she has won only 2 titles in the last 3 years on the tour. Yes, you read that right. Sindhu emerged victorious at the world championships in 2019 and the World Tour Finals in 2018 and podium finishes in major tournaments had agonisingly evaded her.
Unlike the start of 2021 where Sindhu looked rusty and struggling for form, the reigning world champion began her Tokyo Olympics campaign, brushing off lower-ranked Ksenia Polikarpova and Cheung Ngan Yi in straight games.
Tougher challenges awaited the Indian in the knockout stages. But she aced them. She dispatched Mia Blichfelft, the World No. 12 from Denmark, in just 41 minutes while she pulled off a stunning win over World No. 5 and local hope Akane Yamaguchi in straight games, seeing off a late charge from the former numero uno.
Sindhu moved away from the Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy earlier this year to train at the Gachibowli Stadium in Hyderabad and also had a brief stint in the UK to work on strength and nutrition. Despite Sindhu maintaining that the move away from the famous academy was to train in similar conditions that was to be on offer in Tokyo.
Plenty of rumours floated but Sindhu kept stressing that she has been doing her job along with South Korean coach Park Tae Sang who came on board in 2018. It seems nothing deterred Sindhu’s preparations as the star shuttler was in dominant form, until Saturday – a stark contrast to her early-season form.
Sindhu can still finish on the podium and script history.