PV Sindhu created history as she stormed into the women’s single badminton final at the 2018 Asian Games here on Monday but her compatriot Saina Nehwal had to settle for a bronze.
After defeating World No.2 Akane Yagamuchi of Japan 21-17, 15-21, 21-10 in the semis, the 23-year-old became the first Indian shuttler to reach the final of badminton singles competition at the Asiad.
Sindhu will now face Taiwan’s Tai Tzu Ying on Tuesday. Tai had entered the final after defeating India’s Saina Nehwal in straight games in the other semi-final on Monday.
Nehwal had to settle for bronze after suffering a 21-17, 21-14 defeat in the semis. The 28-year-old’s bronze is the first individual badminton medal at the Asiad for India in 36 years.
The clash between Sindhu and Yagamuchi was a hard-fought, edge-of-the-seat affair. The scoreline read 6-6 in the first game before Sindhu started to attack Yagamuchi’s forehand to take a 11-8 lead at the break.
The Indian further extended her lead to 17-12 but three consecutive points by Yamaguchi bought the Japanese back into the contest. Sindhu however, maintained her dominance and sealed the first game in 22 minutes.
The second game also saw a tight start as the score were levelled at 3-3 before Sindhu took a 7-4 lead. The Japanese then showed some brilliant skills to level it at 10-10 and took a narrow 11-10 lead at the break.
Yagamuchi continued to push the Indian on to the backfoot as she extended her lead to 16-12 before making it 18-14.
Later, Sindhu managed to clinch just a single point as her opponent raced away to seal the second game and get back on leve terms.
The third and final game saw Sindhu taking a 7-3 lead and further stretching it to 11-7 at the break. Continous errors by the Japanese helped the Indian take a six point lead as the score read 17-10 in Sindhu’s favour.
Yagamuchi then failed to put up a fight in the closing stages as the Rio Olympic silver medalist wrapped up the affair 21-10 to enter the final.
Earlier on Monday, Saina faced a tough battle against the World No.1 from Taiwan.
In a close fought match, Saina trailed 0-3 in the first game before making a comeback to draw at 10-10. However, her opponent took five consecutive points to take a 15-10 lead.
Putting up a good fight yet again, Saina reduced the deficit to 15-16 but the Taiwan shuttler denied the Indian any further onslaught as she wrapped up the 19-minute affair 21-17.
In the second game, Tai once again raced to a 4-1 lead and some unforced errors from Saina helped her to increase her lead to 6-2.
Saina again fought back to level the scores at 6-6 and went into the break trailing 10-11. The issue went 15-14 in Tai’s favour before the Taiwanese once again dominated the final few moments to seal the game 21-14 in her favour.