Tokyo Olympics | Sindhu in top gear, advances to elimination round

This was P.V. Sindhu's sixth win over Hong Kong's Cheung Ngan in as many meetings

July 28, 2021 08:52 am | Updated 04:37 pm IST

P.V. Sindhu of India reacts during the match against Cheung Ngan Yi of Hong Kong.

P.V. Sindhu of India reacts during the match against Cheung Ngan Yi of Hong Kong.

World champion P.V. Sindhu produced another fine performance to beat Hong Kong’s Cheung Ngan Yi 21-9, 21-16 and enter the elimination round of the Olympic Games on July 28. The 39-minute victory saw Sindhu top Group ‘J’ and set up a meeting with World No. 12 Denmark’s Mia Blichfeldt, winner of Group ‘I’, on Thursday.  The seventh-ranked Sindhu enjoys a 4-1 advantage over Mia, but it is 1-1 this year. The Indian has won their last encounter.

Sindhu took on Cheung, ranked 34th, for the first time since posting a fifth consecutive win over her in 2017. Realising that the challenges are going to get progressively tougher, the Indian settled down quickly and took control of the first game. With deft cross-court placements and the occasional smashes, Sindhu kept the 28-year-old Hong Kong player guessing. That Sindhu led 10-3 and 15-8 aptly reflected her domination. She dropped just one more point before racing away with the next six to close out the game. In the second, Sindhu, quite surprisingly, opted not to toss the shuttle deep into the court. Instead, she was happy to make Cheung move on both flanks, close to the net. Any loose response was met with a firm smash.

It was to Cheung's credit that she caught Sindhu on the forehand court with well-placed smashes. This also helped her stay in step with Sindhu during the first half of the game and she even led 11-10 at the mid-game break. From 14-14, Sindhu raised the bar, reeling off six straight points and move within a point of victory. Cheung saved two match-points before Sindhu sealed the contest with a powerful smash from close to the net. Later in the day, B. Sai Praneeth lost 14-21, 14-21 to Dutchman Mark Caljouw in an inconsequential Group D contest. The result helped Caljouw, a semifinalist at this year’s All England championship, make it to the knockout phase at the expense of Israel’s Misha Zilberman, the Russia-born shuttler who had handed out a stunning 2-0 defeat to the Indian.

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