Eyeing back-to-back Olympic medals, India's badminton star PV Sindhu on Friday produced one of her finest performances in recent times to beat Japan's tenacious Akane Yamaguchi in straight games. The win helped the reigning world champion move into the semis of women's singles competition at the Tokyo Games. The 26-year-old Indian shuttler took only 23 minutes to win the first game 21-13, but she faced a stiff challenge in the second game. Sindhu was even forced to save two game points after squandering a healthy lead of six points. Then, the Rio silver medallist wrapped up the match in the first opportunity, with the match lasting 56 minutes. She will meet the winner of the Ratchanok Intanon vs Tai Tzu Ying clash. In another semis, Chinese girls He Bing Jao and Chen Yufei will fight it out. Catch highlights here:
2:53 PM IST: Game 2 - PV Sindhu 22-20 Akane Yamaguchi
And Sindhu enters the semi-final with a thrilling, fighting win. In straight games. In 56 minutes.
2:51 PM IST: Game 2 - PV Sindhu 21-20 Akane Yamaguchi
Another down the line smash from the lanky Hyderabadi to take lead, and match point.
2:49 PM IST: Game 2 - PV Sindhu 20-20 Akane Yamaguchi
Sindhu saves one match point. Then, another one with a killer smash at the net.
2:48 PM IST: Game 2 - PV Sindhu 18-20 Akane Yamaguchi
Now, Yamaguchi having her moment. A sensational drop set to move to game point.
2:47 PM IST: Game 2 - PV Sindhu 18-18 Akane Yamaguchi
Another unforced error from Sindhu and Yamaguchi takes lead again. Then, a brilliant leave to reduce the lead to one point. At 17-18, Sindhu kills with a smash.
2:44 PM IST: Game 2 - PV Sindhu 16-17 Akane Yamaguchi
Overcook. Overheat. Sindhu does what she does best, making Yamaguchi cover as much ground as possible with but she sends one long.
2:42 PM IST: Game 2 - PV Sindhu 15-16 Akane Yamaguchi
Now, Yamaguchi takes lead as Sindhu commits two unforced errors. She fails to return in the second.
2:41 PM IST: Game 2 - PV Sindhu 15-14 Akane Yamaguchi
The best rally of the match, and Yamaguchi wins it on Sindhu's backhand. And both the players on the floor. Now Sindhu's lead only one point.
2:39 PM IST: Game 2 - PV Sindhu 15-12 Akane Yamaguchi
Sindhu wins another long rally, this time thanks to Yamaguchi's failure at the net. And a breather as players stroll...
2:36 PM IST: Game 2 - PV Sindhu 14-10 Akane Yamaguchi
It looks long. Sindhu goes for a crosscourt smash, and the umpire calls it long. Sindhu challenges, and she's wrong.
2:34 PM IST: Game 2 - PV Sindhu 12-7 Akane Yamaguchi
Now, a confident Sindhu taking charge. Just produces a fine smash shot. But a quick jump and kill from Yamaguchi.
2:31 PM IST: Game 2 - PV Sindhu 11-6 Akane Yamaguchi
Sindhu is toying with Yamaguchi. Lead again five with another cross-court winner.
2:31 PM IST: Game 2 - PV Sindhu 10-5 Akane Yamaguchi
Sindhu wins five points on the trot, topping it with a delectable drop shot.
2:29 PM IST: Game 2 - PV Sindhu 6-5 Akane Yamaguchi
Sindhu produces a timely overhead smash to keep her lead. Then a brilliant rally with Yamaguchi retrieving Sindhu's smashes, then the Japanese wins a net play.
2:27 PM IST: Game 2 - PV Sindhu 5-3 Akane Yamaguchi
A rare service fault from the Japanese. Then Yamaguchi challenges a line call and the umpire's right. Point for Sindhu.
2:24 PM IST: Game 2 - PV Sindhu 3-2 Akane Yamaguchi
A cagey start to the second game. Both still trying to measure each other. An unforced error from Yamaguchi to give Sindhu a 3-2 lead.
2:18 PM IST: Game 1 - PV Sindhu 21-13 Akane Yamaguchi
Yamaguchi wins back-to-back points, but she ends up hitting a forehand crosscourt long. Then, a simple finish to the game by Sindhu. She wins it in 23 minutes.
2:16 PM IST: Game 1 - PV Sindhu 17-11 Akane Yamaguchi
One brilliant rally ends with Sindhu toying with Yamaguchi. Sindhu nears game point.
2:11 PM IST: Game 1 - PV Sindhu 14-9 Akane Yamaguchi
Sindhu maintains a five-point lead after Yamaguchi fails in a netplay.
2:06 PM IST: Game 1 - PV Sindhu 11-7 Akane Yamaguchi
Sindhu increased the lead to four points with a smash winner.
2:03 PM IST: Game 1 - PV Sindhu 6-6 Akane Yamaguchi
An error of judgment from Sindhu to end a 26-stroke rally. She let it go and the shuttle caught the line.
2:01 PM IST: Game 1 - PV Sindhu 4-5 Akane Yamaguchi
Yamaguchi slips and a deceptive stroke at the net.
2:00 PM IST: Game 1 - PV Sindhu 2-4 Akane Yamaguchi
As expected, the Japanese girl on with her delaying tactics. Longer relays prefer her.
1:55 PM IST: Finally, the stars are here! Get ready for a wild ride.
1:51 PM IST: Elsewhere, Indian cricketers Krishnappa Gowtham and Yuzvendra Chahal Chahal also test positive for COVID-19, and they are staying back in Sri Lanka. ICYMI, India lost the third and final T20I match to Sri Lanka. Depleted, was the excuse!
1:47 PM IST: And at our expense, advertisers are having a field day! Assuming, they are also enjoying the delay, or whatever... The scheduled start time was 1:15 IST.
1:44 PM IST: Such a frustrating game this waiting game is! The medal ceremony for the mixed doubles got over a while ago.
1:35 PM IST: Meanwhile, prodigious South Korean archer San An has won the women's individual final after the shoot-off against Elena Osipova of ROC.
1:30 PM IST: It seems there will be more delay. Sindhu is seeded sixth while Yamaguchi is fourth. In their last meeting, Sindhu came back a set down to win 16-21, 21-16, 21-19 at All England quarters.
1:21 PM IST: Umpire of the match is Janelyn Fundal of the Philippines. Anh Nguyen of Vietnam will assist as the service judge.
1:18 PM IST: Slight delay in the start after that three-game mixed doubles final. Court being prepared for another round of high octane clash.
1:13 PM IST: Second seeds Wang Yi Lyu and Huang Dong Ping defeated top seeds Zheng Si Wei and Huang Ya Qiong in the all-Chinese final in three games (21-17, 17-21, 21-19)
Earlier, Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino of Japan defeated Hong Kong pair Chu Man Tang and Ying Suet Tse in straight games (21-17, 23-21) to take bronze.
1:06 PM IST: Earlier, He Bing Jao defeated Nozomi Okuhara to set up a semi-final date against her Chinese compatriot Chen Yufei, who defeated An Se-young.
The winner of PV Sindhu vs Akane Yamaguchi will face the winner of the Ratchanok Intanon vs Tai Tzu Ying clash.
1:03 PM IST: Here's how to watch
The PV Sindhu vs Akane Yamaguchi match will be telecast live on the Sony Sports Network; and SonyLiv for live streaming
12:58 PM IST: Meanwhile, here's a lovely story on Lovlina Borgohain, India's latest Olympic medallist.
12:21 PM IST: PV Sindhu and Akane Yamaguchi will face off for the 19th time. Both the players are yet to drop a game in Tokyo.
PV Sindhu is the only Indian surviving in the badminton competition. She had sailed through her group matches and then defeated Denmark's Mia Blichfeldt 21-15, 21-13 in a pre-quarterfinal tie on Thursday.
PV Sindhu eyes back-to-back Olympic medal. AP photo
Akane Yamaguchi has been dominant as well in Tokyo 2020. The Japanese world No. 5 beat Gaeun Kim of Korea in straight games 21-17, 21-18 in her pre-quarterfinal match.
Akane Yamaguchi has an 7-11 head-to-head record against PV Sindhu. AP photo
Both Sindhu and Yamaguchi are familiar with each other's style of play. These two have played each other 18 times with Sindhu leading 11-7 in win-loss records.
Sindhu had beaten Yamaguchi in a marathon three-setter in March this year at the All England. The world No. 7 Sindhu staged a remarkable comeback winning 16-21, 21-16, 21-19 against Yamaguchi.
But these records will mean nothing on an Olympic stage. Sindhu has prepared well for the Olympics with her personal coach Park Tae-sang but more than her skills, her fitness will get tested for sure.
Eyeing back-to-back Olympic medals, India's badminton star PV Sindhu on Friday produced one of her finest performances in recent times to beat Japan's tenacious Akane Yamaguchi in straight games to move into the semis of women's singles competition at Tokyo Games. The 26-year-old Indian shuttler took only 23 minutes to take the first game 21-13 but faced a stiff challenge in the second game. Sindhu was even forced to save two game points after squandering a healthy lead of six points. Then, the Rio silver medallist wrapped up the match in the first opportunity, with the match lasting 56 minutes. She will meet the winner of Ratchanok Intanon vs Tai Tzu Ying clash. In another semis, Chinese girls He Bing Jao and Chen Yufei will fight it out. Catch highlights here