• Shailesh upadhyay

Tokyo 2020: PV Sindhu inches closer towards 2nd Olympic medal, enters semis with win over Akane

PV Sindhu came up with a dominant display of badminton, showcasing signs of the form that took her to the World Championships gold in 2019, to decimate 4th seed, Akane Yamaguchi, in a one-sided quarter-final match at the Musashino Forest Plaza in Tokyo on Friday.

The straight-game win sees Sindhu reach the semi-final of the Tokyo Olympics and inch closer to a second Olympic medal. The reigning world champion won the Olympic silver on her Games debut in Rio, losing only to Carolina Marin who had pulled out of Tokyo 2020 due to an ACL injury.

Sindhu needed 56 minutes to outclass World No. 5 Akane Yamaguchi 21-13, 22-20 despite a late surge from the Japanese shuttler in a fiercely-contested 2nd game. Sindhu had to save 2 game points as she held her nerve to take the match in straight games.

PV Sindhu will face either World No. 1 Tai Tzu Ying of Taiwan or World No. 6 Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand in the semi-final.

With the defeat, Japan's campaign in the badminton singles competition at Tokyo Games is over. Nozomi Okuhara lost her quarter-final match earlier in the day while World No. 1 Kento Momota was stunned in the group stages of the men's singles event.

Calm and composed: Sindhu showing sparkling form

Sindhu didn't rush into her shots. Expect a brief period of play in the 2nd game, Sindhu was not desperate to close out points. Knowing that Yamaguchi was struggling with the drift, Sindhu took her time in the rallies at hit decisive winners.

Sindhu's defense has been rock solid and those delicate drop shots in unreturnable angles are a welcome addition to her game. Sindhu made Yamaguchi look lost for answers in the first game before the Japanese star stormed back from 8-14 down to take a lead of 16-15.

However, Sindhu held her nerves and trusted her game, not allowing Yamaguchi to run away with the match. Send saved two game points at 18-20 and converted her first match point to end Japan's hopes in singles.

Earlier on Thursday, PV Sindhu needed just 41 minutes to outclass World No. 12 Mia Blichfeldt in the Round of 16 matches. Sindhu looked dialed in and moved wonderfully well on the court. Sindhu was in fine touch so much so that Mia was made to look toothless. In fact, only in January, the Denmark shuttler had beaten Sindhu in straight games.

Sindhu had trained away from the Pullela Gopichand Academy, at the Gachibowli Stadium in Hyderabad to get acclimated to the conditions at the Musashino Forest Plaza and the decision seems to have paid dividends.

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