PV Sindhu will become the first Indian woman to win a silver or gold medal after a brilliant, polished performance in the women's singles semifinals of the badminton event saw her move within a win of winning a title at the Rio Olympics.
Sindhu was outstanding from the off, never letting her Japanese opponent Nozomi Okuhara take control, with that brilliant reach of hers brought into stunning effect. Sindhu eventually won the semifinal 21-19, 21-10 in 49 minutes and will face the best player in the world at the moment – Carolina Marin – in the final.
Going by this performance, though, even Marin will know she will need to be art her absolute best to snatch the gold medal away from this wonderful talent from Hyderabad.
Sindhu came in with a plan for this semifinal against her higher-ranked Japanese opponent, and she delivered it to a T, even if there were a few moments here and there when she lost her composure a little – understandable, considering she is still only 21. The plan was to move Okuhara around as much as possible, and use that height of Sindhu's to good use.
Control is what you want in a big match, because if you have that control, even if the match is close, you always feel like you are going to win the game, and the match as a result. That is precisely what Sindhu had in this semifinal. From the start she controlled the proceedings, the pace of the game, and the Japanese struggled to stay with her.
After jumping into an early lead in the first game, Sindhu tensed a little as that opening game victory came around, but she held her nerve in the end, with Okuhara planting a smash that caught the tape and landed in her side of the court to hand the Indian the win.
A 3-0 lead in the second game looked like taking Sindhu comfortably towards a semifinal victory, but Okuhara picked up five points in a row to bring back those doubts and worries again. However, with a fairly large Indian contingent roaring her on, Sindhu fought back, with the match tied at 10-10 halfway through.
From there, it was all about the 21-year-old, as Sindhu won 11 points in a row in a devastatingly smooth performance; a performance that belied her years and turned her into a history maker.
Four Indian women – Karnam Malleswari, MC Mary Kom, Saina Nehwal and Sakshi Malik, on Wednesday -- have won individual medals for India at the Olympics, all of them bronze, and now Sindhu stands above them all.
A silver medal is certain, but gold would be the most wondrous of silver linings of an Olympic campaign that India have not had too much to be happy about.