RIO DE JANEIRO: A visibly elated PV Sindhu rated her win over London Olympics silver medalist Yihan Wang as one of the best moments of her career hoping that she could maintain her good form against Japanese Nozomi Okuhara in the semi-finals of the Rio Olympics.
Asked about her initial feelings, Sindhu said: “This is also Rio Olympics, it’s a very different feeling. It’s one of the best moments. I hope there will be many more to come,” World No 10 said after her 22-20 21-19 victory to become second Indian after Saina Nehwal to reach last four at Olympics.
Queried about the pressure of winning an Olympic medal for India in this difficult time, she said: “I was just thinking about the game. If you play really well you will automatically win the game, and a medal. I’m just focused on my match and the next match, the semis (against Okuhara). I hope I can give my best.”
Seven years younger to the Chinese, the two-time world championship bronze medallist Indian trailed by 10-12 and was 20-20 but she maintained her calm to win two points and take an intense first game. Sindhu attributed her patience which helped her winning crucial points when the much fancied Chinese rival was retrieving everything she threw at her.
“There were big rallies, she was attacking well. My smashes were going out initially. Even she did not leave and she was lifting everything. I was really patient and I was ready for everything, which I feel was the turning point.”
“I never thought I would lose this, because any moment anything can change. It was not so easy to get points, both of us fought for every point. It was very close. In the first game it was 20-all and I felt even though I was leading I never thought the game was over. She came really close, even she played brilliantly,” she said.
Coach Pullela Gopichand feels Sindhu can do much better in terms of her defensive ability as she faces world number three Nozomi Okuhara in the Olympic semifinals Wednesday.
World number 10 Sindhu, who has a 1-3 win-loss record against Nozomi, has never beaten the Japanese since the Asian Youth Under-19 Championship in 2012 and has lost on three consecutive occasions in 2014, 2015 and the last being Asian Team Championship in Hyderabad earlier in February this year.
“It was good (the win against Wang Yihan) but in my book she can do a notch higher. There’s of course some chances of improvement in a couple of areas,” Gopichand said after Sindhu earned a hard-fought 22-20 21-19 win over world number two Wang to make the semis.
Sindhu gave away six easy points at a crucial stage in the second game to hand Yihan a 19-18 lead, but the Indian did well to scrape through in a 55-minute battle of nerves. “She’s been inconsistent a few times and squandered leads but I think it’s all part of her learning experience. She’s still young and has age on her side. I think she’s a great fighter with great work ethic,” Gopichand said about Sindhu.
Rating the win as one of the biggest of Sindhu’s career, Gopichand added: “I think definitely, it’s one of the biggest. The (Olympic quarterfinal) stage makes it special. She played really well and was all fired up.”
“It was really a good match, a spirited performance from the beginning. Both the players fought well. Sindhu stayed calmer and finished off. She showed great attitude. She straightway got into a good retrieving capacity to negate Yan’s attack. It was very close call on all the games.
“She changed her gameplan a couple of times and started attacking on Sindhu’s forehand before playing counter net a couple of times. In the end, Sindhu responded well with some solid smashes,” he said.