India's badminton superstar PV Sindhu failed to turn up in her singles semi-final match against old nemesis Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei on Saturday. Meaning, the Rio Games silver medallist will now fight for a bronze medal at Tokyo Olympics. And her opponent is China's He Bing Jiao, who lost the first semi-final against compatriot Chen Yufei in three games. Sindhu, after choosing to serve first, took lead with some cautious play. But she failed to kill off the first game despite leading for the majority of the game. This was Sindhu's 14th loss to Tai Tzu-Ying in 19 meetings, including the last three face-offs. Sindhu has a 6-9 head-to-head record against her bronze medal play-off opponent Bing Jiao. But the Indian won the last meeting in straight games in World Tour Finals 2019. Then, the world number one changed the pace of the game in the second. The bronze medal match is scheduled for tomorrow (Sunday) with start time of 5:00 PM IST. Catch highlights here:
4:40 PM IST: Game 2 - PV Sindhu 12-19 Tai Tzu Ying
Eight match points for Tai Tzu Ying and she needs only one. It takes just 19 minutes to win the second game. She wins it in straight games, 2-0 (21-18, 21-12).
4:39 PM IST: Game 2 - PV Sindhu 12-19 Tai Tzu Ying
PV Sindhu wins back-to-back points, for a change, then another one. She needs a miracle now. But not coming. Tai Tzu Ying wins her 19th point.
4:36 PM IST: Game 2 - PV Sindhu 9-18 Tai Tzu Ying
All sorts of errors from PV Sindhu. She once again misreads a long flight. A poor net play from Tai Tzu Ying allows her to break the momentum. And soon, the Taiwanese forces Sindhu to make another mistake, this time at the net.
4:35 PM IST: Game 2 - PV Sindhu 8-15 Tai Tzu Ying
Tai Tzu Ying showing her attacking prowess. But Sindhu, for the first time, gets a chance to kill it with a smash. And she wins a point. Then, Tai Tzu Ying responds with a down-the-line smash.
4:32 PM IST: Game 2 - PV Sindhu 7-11 Tai Tzu Ying
Moment of truth for PV Sindhu. A brief respite courtesy a Tai Tzu Ying unforced error, but a four-point lead for the Taiwanese.
4:30 PM IST: Game 2 - PV Sindhu 4-7 Tai Tzu Ying
Tai Tzu Ying wins back-to-back points as PV Sindhu misses the line, once again. And builds on the lead.
4:26 PM IST: Game 2 - PV Sindhu 3-2 Tai Tzu Ying
Tai Tzu Ying's confidence growing, and outmaneuver PV Sindhu after forcing the Indian deep into the court. But Sindhu takes the initiative back, courtesy of an unforced error from her opponent.
4:21 PM IST: Game 1 - PV Sindhu 18-21 Tai Tzu Ying
PV Sindhu crashes one into the net and game point for Tai Tzu Ying. And the world number one kills off with a smash in 21 minutes.
After leading mos the game, Sindhu commits a series of unforced errors to help a determined Tai Tzu Ying take the first game.
4:10 PM IST: Game 1 - PV Sindhu 17-18 Tai Tzu Ying
Tai Tzu Ying exploiting PV Sindhu's weakness at the near court. Plays a deceptive shot. But Sindhu maintains her slender lead. No. Tai Tzu Ying just produces probably the best point. And takes the lead thanks to a net call.
4:17 PM IST: Game 1 - PV Sindhu 16-15 Tai Tzu Ying
PV Sindhu bids her time, making Tai Tzu Ying wait for her service and wins the points. Tai Tzu Ying crashes into the net from a low return. And another one, long.
4:15 PM IST: Game 1 - PV Sindhu 14-13 Tai Tzu Ying
PV Sindhu loses another couple of points with the last one from a deflection at the net. Then, Tai Tzu Ying sends a backhand return into the net.
4:13 PM IST: Game 1 - PV Sindhu 11-11 Tai Tzu Ying
Another poor judgment call from PV Sindhu and Tai Tzu Ying wins four on the trot.
4:10 PM IST: Game 1 - PV Sindhu 11-8 Tai Tzu Ying
Another couple of points for Tai Tzu Ying with PV Sindhu making a judgment error. But Tai Tzu Ying sends a cross-court shot long.
4:09 PM IST: Game 1 - PV Sindhu 9-6 Tai Tzu Ying
Tai Tzu Ying wins back-to-back points, then a touch of luck for PV Sindhu. Shuttle flips over.
4:07 PM IST: Game 1 - PV Sindhu 8-4 Tai Tzu Ying
Tai Tzu Ying challenges an out call and it's out. Sindhu leads 8-4.
4:06 PM IST: Game 1 - PV Sindhu 5-2 Tai Tzu Ying
PV Sindhu using her reach to the best and a cross-court smash to make it a three-point lead.
4:03 PM IST: Game 1 - PV Sindhu 2-2 Tai Tzu Ying
A push too long from Tai Tzu Ying to allow PV Sindhu level 2-2.
3:59 PM IST: PV Sindhu wins the toss and will serve first. They are warming up.
3:56 PM IST: Up next, PV Sindhu Vs Tai Tzu-Ying!
3:32 PM IST: And Chen needs only one chance. She beats her Chinese compatriot He Bing Jiao in three games (21-16, 13-21, 21-12) in 79 minutes.
3:50 PM IST: Despite the niggle, top-seed Chen Yufei inches closer to the Olympics final. Needs one more point.
3:38 PM IST: Chen Yufei takes a medical time-out to tend to her bruised left foot.
3:21 PM IST: It's one game all in the first semi-final. He Bing Jiao fights back to take the second game 21-13 in 24 minutes. Chen Yufei won the first 21-16 in 25 minutes.
2:58 PM IST: Top seed Chen Yufei takes the first game, 21-16 in 25 minutes, against He Bing Jiao.
2:30 PM IST: The afternoon session started with the first women's semi-final between China’s top seed Chen Yufei and compatriot He Bing Jiao. PV Sindhu Vs Tai Tzu-Ying match soon after this clash.
The match against Tai Tzu-Ying will test how much the 27-year-old Sindhu has improved her mental stamina in the last year or so. The second-seeded Tai Tzu-Ying is not only a crafty player but has psyched out Sindhu every time they have clashed in recent times.
PV Sindhu is eyeing back-to-back Olympic medals. AP photo
Having beaten Sindhu in her last three matches against Sindhu, the Chinese Taipei player has a 13-5 win-loss record against the Indian superstar, who needs to overcome the mental barrier against the second seed.
PV Sindhu and Tai Tzu-Ying both played tough quarterfinal matches. Sindhu warded off a resurgent Yamaguchi 21-13 and 22-20 after the Japanese had bridged a six-point deficit and threatened to force a third game.
In Rio, Tai Tzu-Ying lost to PV SInghu in Round of 16. AP photo
Tai Tzu-Ying, 26, actually played a more demanding match. She came back from a game down to beat No. 5 seed Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand 14-21, 21-18, 21-18. Both players were left exhausted after their respective last eight matches.
China’s top seed Chen Yufei and No. 8 seed He Bing Jiao will contest the other semifinal.