It was a sprint to the finish by P.V. Sindhu as she confirmed a place in the gold medal round with a 21-19, 21-10 victory over Nozomi Okuhara of Japan in the women’s singles semifinal at the Riocentro Pavilion on Thursday.

In a thrilling climax, in which she was at her brilliant best, the 21-year-old Sindhu produced a flurry of winners — a backhand winner standing out — and reeled off 11 points on the trot after the two were tied 10-10 in the second game.

After the intense battle all along, when Sindhu managed to keep her nose in front against the probing Japanese, it was an unexpected bonanza for the spectators who were chanting India, India, India… as if it were a mantra!

Sindhu has the good habit of playing the shuttle on its merit rather than playing the reputation of her opponent.

She made a confident start and kept the lead for long, before the short-built Japanese caught up in the first game. At the crunch, Sindhu unleashed ferocious strokes that made the difference.

Even though she did tend to make a few mistakes, Sindhu stuck to her gameplan, answering all the questions posed by the Japanese, before stepping up on the gas and mowing down her opponent.

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