India's gold medal hopes in women's singles badminton went up in smoke after PV Sindhu lost her semifinal to Tai Tzu-Ying in straight games 18-21, 12-21 in Tokyo on Saturday. She will now compete with China's He Bing Jiao for the bronze medal.
Sindhu, who is the Rio Olympics silver-medallist and world champion, had drawn early advantage with her aggressive display in the first game, opening up a 6-3 lead. However, Tai Tzu fought back before Sindhu again opened up a three-point lead at 11-8.
However, Tai Tzu then won three quick points to draw level and from there, the two went neck and neck before the Taiwanese player closed the first game in her favour 21-18.
While the first game took 21 minutes, the second game took just 19 minutes as Tai Tzu continued using the sharp, acute angles to leave the ace Indian shuttler and the world champion flummoxed. Tai Tzu took a four-point lead at 11-7 and from there never looked back sealing the game at 21-12.
The 40-minute encounter between the sixth seed Sindhu and the second seed Tai Tzu was as one-sided as it could get and took half as much time as the first semifinal between He and Chen Yu Fei. Chen overpowered her Chinese compatriot in three games 21-16, 13-21 and 21-12 in 79 minutes.
Sindhu, the 2016 Olympics silver medallist, has emerged as the lone flagbearer of Indian badminton in Tokyo after three other shuttlers crashed out in the group stage.
On Friday, she came up with one of her best performances against a dangerous opponent in Akane Yamaguchi of Japan, the fourth seed, and outfoxed her for a straight games victory, 21-13, 22-20.
Sindhu used her deceptive shots and superior net play to dominate the Japanese in the first game. Though Akane launched a superb fightback in the second set, Sindhu won four successive points from 18-20 to emerge a winner.
(With inputs from IANS)