ANOTHER Indian has challenged Chinas dominance in badminton,with teenager Pusarla Venkata Sindhu sensationally beating Olympic champion and World No 2 Xuerui Li in the quarterfinals of the China Masters meet at Changzhou on Friday.
The 17-year-old current national badminton champion won 21-19,9-21,21-16 against the Chinese gold medallist in the first Super Series meet post the Olympics,ensuring that badminton continues to bring home happy tidings a month after Saina Nehwal clinched for India its first Olympic bronze medal in the sport.
The elation is elevated a few notches not merely because the Indian,ranked World No 24,accounted for the Olympic champion,but also because Sindhu brings with her the added advantage of her towering frame at 510. Her pedigree is further enhanced by her sporting genes parents P V Ramana and P Vijaya are both volleyball players.
Moreover,she has emerged from the same Gopichand academy stable in Hyderabad from where Nehwal leapt to Olympic glory. Gopichand incidentally has kept stressing on the need of sheer numbers to take on the Chinese.
Sindhus win against the Olympic champion was a reflection of her temperament as in the two sets that she won,she didnt once concede the lead to Xuerui. Coming off the Olympic campaign,the Chinese looked a tad rusty and circumspect. As such,the year immediately after the Olympics witnesses a lot of flux as a new brigade emerges,and the Chinese are known to take a good,appraising look at the newer opponents. Still,no one would deny that Sindhu brought her ace-game of high reach and steep smashes (26) to the table in the quarters,a day after shed accounted for eighth seed Thai Porntip Buranaprasertsuk 10-21,21-7,21-19.
A five-point lead in the opener kept Sindhu in good stead to go a set up while in the decider she opened up a 8-3 gap.
The Hyderabadi has been a trainee at Gopis academy since age seven,tasting moderate success in the junior meets before choosing to jump into the fire cauldron of the senior circuit,playing the tough Super Series level in Asia. Marked out to join Nehwal in the big league for the past two seasons now and hand-picked by Gopichand to widen Indias assault at the world stage,Sindhu,however,may not have expected to beat a top Chinese so early in her career.
She next plays another Chinese World No 9 Yanjiao Jiang and should fancy her chances,having run the fourth seed close at the India Open in April before going down in three tough sets. Experience of playing a top-quality Super Series semifinal in the Chinese backyard will be priceless this early in her career. India meanwhile can feel rightfully gleeful as the only two shuttlers to beat Xuerui Li this year (she had been on a 29-match-unbeaten-streak) are Indians.