It’s hard to imagine what must have gone through PV Sindhu’s mind when she stepped on court. Facing the defending champion on her home soil in the third round - the Indian youngster may have found the situation intimidating but her confident strokes portrayed no such fear. She was eager for revenge.
At the end of 55 minutes, the crowd at the Tianhe Indoor Stadium in Guangzhou was left stunned. The 18-year-old had pulled off the biggest upset, in straight games mind you, of the current edition of the World Championships.
Yihan Wang is no easy opponent. Having the bragging rights of the 2012 London Games silver medal is proof of her calibre. Aggressive and yet composed, the 25-year-old Chinese had defeated Sindhu at the Sudirman Cup in May.
“We had gone into the match with an open mind. We weren’t 100 percent sure of the win but she was ready for the challenge,” is how national coach, Pullela Gopichand, described his ward’s preparations. Maybe that helped. No matter what Wang threw in her direction, the 10th seed found a suitable answer for the scoreboard to read 21-18, 23-21 in her favour on Thursday evening.
In the quarterfinals, the lanky teenager is up against a familiar opponent — Shixian Wang of China. Sindhu had defeated Wang earlier this year in the Asia Championships in Taipei. So, is there a game-plan in place already? “No, Sindhu needs to rest now. All the planning will be done tomorrow,” was Gopichand’s reply.
The good news for India didn’t stop there. Saina Nehwal and Parupalli Kashyap too, pulled off victories, contrasting but, to reach the quarterfinals. While Saina was stretched by Thailand’s Porntip Buranaprasertsuk, Kashyap got the better of sixth seeded Yun Hu of Hong Kong in 37 minutes.
Despite losing the first game, 18-21, Saina came back strong against the 15th seed to wrap up the match 21-16, 21-14 in 52 minutes. The third seed next faces Yeon Ju Bae of South Korea, against whom she has a 5-2 record, for a semifinal berth.
Kashyap, seeded 13th in the tournament, saw off Hu 21-13, 21-16 to set up a date with third seed Du Pengyu of China. “It’s been a good day for India. Saina managed to pull out her match while Sindhu and Kashyap defeated higher ranked opponents. So no complaints,” added Gopichand.