"The aim is to make the semifinal," national coach Pullela Gopichand had said when three Indians made the quarterfinals of the World Championships for the first time.
There were doubts after a lethargic Saina Nehwal and Parupalli Kashyap, who gave away a match point, lost their respective matches. But PV Sindhu, who created the biggest upset at Guangzhou by ousting the defending champion on Thursday, refused to be written off.
"She fought for every point. When Sindhu gets into the groove, she wants to win," Gopi told HT on Friday.
With a straight-games win, 21-18, 21-17, over seventh-seeded Chinese Shixian Wang, the 18-year-old accomplished something no Indian woman shuttler has managed to do in singles - assuring herself of a bronze in her maiden World Championships.
Nothing could go wrong for the lanky 10th seed. Shixian was always left playing catch up against a dominant Sindhu in their 55 minutes on court.
Playing a Chinese at home is never easy, but did her previous victory over Shixian in the Asia Championships play to the world No 12's advantage?
"In these big matches, previous records give you initial confidence. But once you're on the court they don't mean anything. Sindhu was fantastic," Gopi added. In the semis she takes on Thai wonder kid Ratchanok Intanon, who beat Carolina Marin 21-18, 20-22, 21-15.
Pundits had predicted this would be Saina's year. With two previous quarterfinal finishes, the London Games bronze medalist failed to cross the threshold again.
On Friday, the world No 4 was no match for Korean Yeon Ju Bae, going down 21-23, 9-21 in 40 minutes. "Saina's been suffering from an upset stomach," explained Gopi.
"There was something wrong with her. She seemed slow on court. And uncharacteristically, she seemed to give up once she lost the first game," observed former coach P Bhaskar Babu.
Kashyap came close but failed to finish against third seed Du Pengyu of China. The 13th seed's gallant battle ended with the scoreboard reading 21-16, 20-22, 15-21 in Pengyu's favour.
For the record
This edition has been a first for India - from three Indians in the singles quarters to two women making the last-eight stage. Going by records, India have two previous bronze medals in the prestigious tournament - Prakash Padukone's in 1983 and the surprise in 2011 from Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa.