Pusarla V Sindhu walked off the court here on Tuesday with her head held proud. After all it isn’t everyday that one beats a world number two.
The 55 minute encounter against Chinese Yihan Wang was a close hard-fought match that could have swung either way.
The 22-20, 21-19 verdict came from the sweet smiling young woman from Hyderabad holding her nerve and refusing to be cowed down either by the stature of her opponent or the occasion.
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This Olympic quarterfinal was a gritty contest between youth and experience. The 21-year-old trailed for the majority of the first game and only got her nose ahead at 14 all but then just to see her one point lead slip away as the 28-year-old Wang rushed back to take a two-point lead.
The points yo-yoed back and forth till the Indian had two game points at 20-18. When the Chinese clawed back to 20 all, it was easy to presume that the pressure will get to the Indian. But Sindhu showed the kind of grit that defines champions to claw back another game point and closes out at 22-20.
In the second game, she led from the start and the Chinese never got ahead till Sindhu seemed to be having trouble closing out the game despite being ahead 18-13. The world number two then showed what made her earn that ranking as she took six points on the trot to make it 18-19. If Sindhu had to let go, now was when the possibility reared rampant.
But the Indian seems to have ice running through her veins as she stayed cool enough to get right back into the game and reel off there points on the trot to earn her semifinals berth.
She next plays the winner of the quarterfinal between Japanese players Nozomi Okuhara and Akane Yamaguchi.