Badminton: Sindhu to take on Okuhara in semis
RIO DE JANEIRO: India's shuttler P.V Sindhu will face reigning All England champion Nozomi Okuhara of Japan for a place in the final of the women's singles event at the Rio Olympics here on Thursday.
Double World Championship bronze medallist Sindhu has been in very good form, dismissing two higher-ranked opponents -- Chinese Taipei's Tai Tzu Ying and World No. 2 Wang Yihan of China in the pre-quarter-final and the quarter-final respectively.
World No.10 Sindhu stunned last edition's runner-up Yihan in straight games. Faced with a much higher rated opponent, the 21-year-old from Hyderabad scripted a 22-20, 21-19 victory in 54 minutes over the former World No.1 at the Riocentro Pavilion 4 here on Tuesday.
The Indian won the majority of the long rallies and used her power-packed smashes and cross-court shots to good effect.
At Rio, Sindhu has joined Saina Nehwal, who was the first Indian women's singles player to reach the semi-finals of the Olympics at the London Games in 2012. Saina won a bronze medal at the London Games.
Now, Sindhu faces a tricky opponent in Okuhara, who has been living a dream in a fast-rising career.
The Japanese won her first BWF Superseries title at the 2015 home Open. In 2016, the 21-year-old won the prestigious All England Open, becoming the first Japanese woman player to achieve this feat in the last 39 years.
On the other hand, the 21-year-old Indian became the first ever Indian women's singles player to win two bronze medals at the World Championships.
She won the 2013 World Championship bronze by defeating Bae Yeon of Korea and Minatsu Mitani of Japan in 2014.
It will be the fifth meeting between them with the Japanese dominating thrice and having the upper hand at the last meeting at Badminton Asia Team Championships 2016 at Hyderabad.
Sindhu had just edged over Okuhara in Badminton Asia Youth Under 19 Championships 2012 in the third and deciding game.
After two bronze medals in the World Championships, Sindhu has improved the standard of her game, and it remains to be seen how well she tackles the deceptive game and rock solid defence of World No.6 Okuhara.