PV Sindhu took the opening game against Spain’s Carolina Marin 21-19 but couldn’t sustain that momentum as the World No 1 came back into the contest to win the next two games 21-12 and 21-15. Sindhu still won hearts all over for her valiant effort and winning the silver medal – the best finish by a shuttler at the Olympics.
AS IT HAPPENED
2056 hrs IST: Carolina Marin wins it! PV Sindhu can’t get to a middle of the court shot and the Spaniard wins it 19-21, 21-12, 21-15
2056 hrs IST: Carolina Marin pushes the shuttle wide and that’s one saved. 15-20
2055 hrs IST: Carolina Marin guiding the shot very well and it is 20-14, six gold medal chances for the Spaniard
2054 hrs IST: PV Sindhu’s attempted drop shot on the serve is just wide and it is 19-14
2053 hrs IST: PV Sindhu sends Carolina Marin’s smash into the net and it is 17-14
2052 hrs IST: Carolina Marin tries to push the shot into the final third but the angle is a bit too much 14-17
2051 hrs IST: Marin sends her smash wide and it is 13-16 to PV Sindhu now
2050 hrs IST: Very, very close! PV Sindhu’s smash is just wide and it is 16-12
2049 hrs IST: Marin with an error and PV Sindhu clenches her fist as it stands 12-15 now in the final game
WATCH VIDEO: Keystrokes: Super Sindhu
2049 hrs IST: Marin is quick to move back and create space to hit a fierce smash and PV Sindhu can’t send that back. 11-15
2045 hrs IST: Marin latches on to a PV Sindhu shot and it is 12-10
2043 hrs IST: PV Sindhu goes into the break at 11-10 as Sindhu’s shot goes long
2041 hrs IST: Incredible rally there and a mishit by Marin. 10-10 now from 4-9
2040 hrs IST: PV Sindhu with lovely smash and then puts away at the net. 10-9 to the Spaniard
2039 hrs IST: PV Sindhu sends the shuttle long and the run of four straight points is broken. 10-8
2038 hrs IST: Superb get by Sindhu to pick up a low drop shot and then Marin sends her shot long. 8-9
2037 hrs IST: Sindhu with incredible reflexes and hands to reduce the deficit further. 7-9 now
2037 hrs IST: Another error by Marin and it is 6-9 now
2037 hrs IST: Looked to be going out and Marin possibly realised at final moment but she touched it by then. 5-9
2036 hrs IST: Marin’s smash is into the corner and Sindhu can’t respond. 9-4
2034 hrs IST: Marin’s push is into the final third and lands in. She’s up 7-3 now
2032 hrs IST: Marin sends the angled shot just wide and she knows that was a chance. 6-2 to Marin
2031 hrs IST: Marin finding the angles and the depth now. Keeping the shuttle short and Sindhu can’t send it back. 6-1 to Marin now
2030 hrs IST: Sindhu had the point in her lap but an unforced error by her and it is 3-1
2029 hrs IST: Sindhu with a smash into Marin’s body and it is 1-2
2027 hrs IST: PV Sindhu making two errors to begin the third game and Marin up 2-0
In the opening game, PV Sindhu came back from behind to go 1-0 up against Marin. The Indian shuttler was 6-11 behind at the interval and continued to trail before she took control when the scoreline was 16-19, not in her favour.
Marin had some mishits and errors in the phase which allowed Sindhu to pocket the opening game 21-19, winning five points on the trot in the process. Highlight of the opening game was the 39-shot rally between the two. It stretched both players and Sindhu won the point when Marin sent one long.
The momentum and confidence was on Sindhu’s side but Marin showed why she is the world champion when she outplayed her opponent in the second set. The Spanish girl opened up a five-point lead early in the contest when she led Sindhu 6-1. The world champion was quickly off the blocks and she led Sindhu 11-2 at the break.
It needed a special effort to fight back from there. Sindhu did but Marin’s lead was too much for Sindhu to catch up. Marin used her angles with precision and delivered the perfect drop shots to take the second game 21-12.
2024 hrs IST: Marin with an angled shot and she takes the second game 21-12. Into the decider!
2024 hrs IST: Marin with an exquisite drop shot from the corner and game point Marin. 20-12
2023 hrs IST: Marin with a mistake on a low shot – sends it into the net. 12-19
2022 hrs IST: Just a little wide by Sindhu and Marin is two points from a deciding game
2022 hrs IST: Another error by Marin and it is 11-18
2021 hrs IST: Marin sends the shot wide and gives a wry smile. 18-10
2020 hrs IST: Marin with an angled shot going back and it is in 18-9
2020 hrs IST: Sindhu’s backhand is into the net and it is 9-17
2019 hrs IST: Sindhu with a smash on the serve and it s in! 16-9
2019 hrs IST: Sindhu with a desperate lunge by can’t send it back 8-16
2018 hrs IST: Marin with an unforced error and it is 8-15
2017 hrs IST: Marin with a lovely angled shot across into the middle of the court. 15-7
2017 hrs IST: Lovely hands by Sindhu to return two quick shots and then land one in 7-14
2016 hrs IST: Sindhu hits the net with an attempted drop shot and Marin once again with the shriek. 14-6
2015 hrs IST: Sindhu has sought a review on a close, very close Marin shot. And it is narrowly long! 6-13
2012 hrs IST: Marin once again turning a defensive moment into attacking one and winning the point 13-5
2011 hrs IST: PV Sindhu still has everyone’s support, come what may
2010 hrs IST: Marin is quickly off the blocks in the second and leads 11-2 at break
2010 hrs IST: Marin is quick at the net to predict where the reply would come and Marin is 10-2 up now
2008 hrs IST: Marin with a great push into the final third and Marin is up 8-2
2007 hrs IST: Good drop shot by Sindhu and Marin can’t send it back. 6-2
2006 hrs IST: Sindhu is down by a considerable margin early on. 6-1 to Marin
2004 hrs IST: Marin starts the second game much better and she’s notched three points in a row 3-0
2002 hrs IST: That was a nervous first game!
2000 hrs IST: Sindhu with an incredible return going back and forces Marin into an error. First game Sindhu! 21-19
2000 hrs IST: Another error by Marin and it is game point Sindhu at 20-19
1959 hrs IST: Marin sends it wide on the backhand and it is all even at 19-19
1959 hrs IST: Marin with a mishit at the net and PV Sindhu is down to one again 18-19
1958 hrs IST: Sindhu has it down to two now. 17-19
1957 hrs IST: Lovely drop shot by Marin and Sindhu with a poor reply which is put away. 19-16
1956 hrs IST: Sindhu sends it long and it is verified on review. 18-16
1955 hrs IST: Absolutely sensational 39 shot rally that stretches both players, in the end Marin sends it long
1954 hrs IST: Marin increases her gap to two and it is 17-15
1953 hrs IST: Sindhu has it down to one! 15-16
1952 hrs IST: Service fault by Marin and it is 14-16
1952 hrs IST: Marin with great drop shot and Sindhu can’t return it properly – hits the net. 16-13
1951 hrs IS: Marin sends the shuttle long and well judged by Sindhu. 13-15
1951 hrs IST: Marin hits the net on the forehand and it is 12-15 to Sindhu
1950 hrs IST: Sindhu goes down the line again and once again Sindhu can’t send it back. 15-11
1949 hrs IST: Marin goes down the line and Sindhu can’t send that back. 14-10
1948 hrs IST: Marin hits the top of the net and PV Sindhu clenches her fist in celebration. 10-13
1947 hrs IST: Sindhu sends the shuttle long from possibly a shuttle that was going out. 13-9
1946 hrs IST: More of this please Sindhu! Drop shot attempt is good and Marin touches the net. 8-12
1944 hrs IST: Lovely shift of the racket by Marin and Sindhu can’t return the drop shot. 11-6 to Marin at break
1943 hrs IST: Marin’s cross court shot grazes the net and topples over. 10-6 up now Marin
1942 hrs IST: Sindhu pulls one point back and it is 6-9 to Sindhu now
1941 hrs IST: Marin stretching Sindhu on the backhand and then putting away the shot at the net into open court. 9-5 up now
1941 hrs IST: Sindhu with yet another push a little too much. 8-4 up now the Spaniard
1941 hrs IST: Sindhu with a fierce smash and Marin can’t control it on her backhand side. 7-4
1940 hrs IST: Sindhu sends shot long and Marin is up 7-3
1939 hrs IST: Service error by Sindhu and Marin leads 6-3
1939 hrs IST: Sindhu with her own thunderous roar as Marin’s shot goes wide. 3-5
1939 hrs IST: Marin with her trademark shriek as Sindhu’s shot is into the net. 2-5
1938 hrs IST: Marin with good point construction. Brings Sindhu forward and then latches on quickly on loopy return at the net. 2-4
1936 hrs IST: Sindhu sends her backhand at the net just wide. Good judgement by Marin. 2-2
1936 hrs IST: One point apiece for both players in the opening stages now. 1-1
1935 hrs IST: The players are on court and it is Sindhu who starts serving
1935 hrs IST: Ranvir Singh wishes Sindhu luck
1929 hrs IST: The entire hockey team is watching PV Sindhu play
1927 hrs IST: Gagan Narang on PV Sindhu: “When you come to court you’re equal & it depends on how you face challenges at that point of time”
1926 hrs IST: UP NEXT: PV SINDHU VS CAROLINA MARIN!
1921 hrs IST: Chen Long beats Viktor Axelsen 21-14, 21-15 in the other men’s semi-final. Chen Long vs Lee Chong Wei in gold medal match
1900 hrs IST: Viktor Axelesan and Chen Long are competing in the men’s singles semis. PV Sindhu and Carolina Marin will take court after this match
1836 hrs IST: Nozomi Okuhara has won the bronze medal after Li Xuerui has decided to hand a walkover after her injury on Thursday
1824 hrs IST: Lee Chong Wei comes from behind to beat Lin Dan 15-21, 21-11, 22-20 in first men’s singles semi
1752 hrs IST: The head-to-head between the two players stands at 4-2 to the Spaniard. Sindhu has beaten her in Denmark and in Maldives. In their last meeting in Hong Kong in 2015, Marin won 21-17, 21-9.
1720 hrs IST: This is a beautiful picture of Sindhu with Gopichand and a true message by former India cricketer Bishan Singh Bedi. Speaking of Gopichand, here’s something on the former player that is now nurturing Olympic medallists
1713 hrs IST: Wishes pouring for Sindhu ahead of the gold medal match
1713 hrs IST: PV Sindhu won her semi-final against Okuhara 21-19, 21-10 and has dropped only one game this Olympics. Where will this one go?
PV Sindhu jumped when she smashed Nozomi Okuhara. Higher even. Gold or silver medal-high in fact.
Not only is jump-smashing rare in women’s badminton — coach Pullela Gopichand’s instructions in the break were “jump and smash, jump and toss” — but for someone who towers over others and makes the court look smaller than it is, maxing the vertical reach was the surest sign of targeting the top medal after her 21-19, 21-10 win over Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara.
Sindhu is on the brink of battling for an Olympic gold; on the threshold to corner the glory that has eluded India for 13 whole days this Games, and for eight years since Abhinav Bindra.
The 21-year-old daughter of Vijaya and P V Ramana — both former volleyball players — has assured India a top-two podium. Her final clash is with Spaniard Carolina Marin, the world’s most dominant player over the last two years, though Sindhu has been in such rampaging form that Indians across the world can stop all that they are doing at 11 am Brazilian time on Friday.
Gopichand was in Sindhu’s ear every moment of Thursday’s match, feeding her game-plans, breaking down every small movement, reading the wind on which way Okuhara’s game was heading.
Tall, long-legged, polite to a fault and whose game has been razor-sharp with relentless smashes, deft net-play and solid defence, Sindhu trashed all pre-game predictions to emerge on the final peak of the draw in a post-Chinese-domination world of badminton.
Father Ramana has said Sindhu has not been using the phone for a month now, and that she’s been off Twitter since the start of the Games. And the girl who can cut a pretty pose in modelling shoots has let the hair curl out — wildly and naturally — this last one month.
Moreover, she has been in boot-camp mode with Gopichand, working over the last two months on her fitness and agility — two things that have stood out and are a mammoth departure from a year ago when she was still work in progress.
Sindhu always had the attacking game, the steep smashes and the firepower in her kill strokes. Now, she’s added a base of defence to it — tougher than for most others given how tall players struggle owing to their higher centre of gravity. This Olympics, she has hit a hitting zone where she’s made her opponents look as if they were playing at a lesser pace, and raised hopes that the top prize might not be too far off. “One match at a time,” she’s been saying.
Twitter went berserk as soon as she rattled off 10 points in the second set after gritting through the posers thrown at her in a few long Okuhara rallies, with Abhinav Bindra dangling the offer to join him in the “lonely” stratosphere of individual gold medallists.
It’s been a stunning run for Gopichand, too — taking a second athlete to the Olympic finals, a step further than last time. As soon as Sindhu won the match, he punched the air in the slowest of motions and joined his hands in a second-long prayer. He’s been animated through the week, but when the medal was assured, it was a silent roar.
“No pressure. It’s just a great moment for me playing the Olympics finals,” Sindhu said. She’s beaten opponents who have troubled her in the past, thrashed a few that have troubled the rest of the world, and on Thursday beat her own nervousness that has troubled most Indians within striking distance of a medal at Rio.
The medal count might not match that of London, but this is a sensational result for Indian badminton — to play the biggest final that there will be internationally every four years. And the elegant woman with a beast of a smash, is promising to fly.
“I do not have any medal yet, so tomorrow we go for the gold.”
Carolina Marin would smile sweetly like an assassin, and declare her intent to erase from the way everything that stands between her and a desperately coveted medal for the Spaniard. It happens to be Indian PV Sindhu, not just standing in the way, but standing tall and confident as one of the two best women’s singles players on show at the Rio Olympics.
They call her the ‘Girl Nadal’ in Spain. Left handed, ferocious and unrelenting on court, plenty of talent there, but also a lot of grit that has fetched her the last two World Championships, as she has summarily flattened the Chinese armada of badminton in the top-most finals.
Always predicted to line up for the final in Rio, Marin has a team headed by coach Fernando Rivas, a master strategist, in her corner. He dreamt of and demolished the Chinese challengers these last few years, but is known to allow Carolina (23 from Huelva in Spain) enough leeway to think for herself on court and in life.
Marin plays at a high pace, works up some wicked angles because she’s southpaw and can turn badminton a combative sport with the amount of belligerence she can put into her game at all times. There was a time she was winning everything in 2015, before she the wins stopped – presumably when she started training for the Olympics.
She was never in doubt of making it to the Olympics, and didn’t need to go through the rigour of two dozen tournaments to ensure she was definitely coming to Rio with a comfortable seeding. The only other World No 1 apart from the Chinese and Saina Nehwal of the last two years, Marin is considered the toughest opponent there is – the marked woman for anyone who wants to finish top.
And she’s not mentally fragile either.
As such, coach Gopichand almost presciently saw this final a year back when he got down to changing Sindhu’s body language on court, turning her from a mild mannered mid-table athlete into someone who learnt to roar on court, and celebrate every winner and kill shot.
Marin’s not just Nadal, she can also scream like Sharapova, something that has rattled most Asian opponents, but it’s the energy she feeds off which translates into a high-paced game with lethal smashes, though she’s not shorn of deception to go with the left handed strokes. At the net, from the baseline and mid court, Marin the world’s No 1 player, is a bulldozing machine who can use every trick in the game and of guile to win.
However, she is an encouraging 4-3 against Sindhu – the Indian’s last win coming last October in Denmark. Sindhu has beaten Marin at the Junior Worlds in 2010, and the unlikeliest of places – a Maldives International Challenge in three sets early in life. In seniors though, since they resumed playing in 2014, Marin’s improved exponentially – at Australia, at Lucknow’s Syed Modi and the 2014 Worlds. Sindhu has looked in the same blistering form as in Denmark last year when she stormed away until the final, though she lost in the last outing at Hong Kong where Marin won her last Super Series title.
Both share a common temperament on court, though Sindhu’s a new entrant to the bellicose club. Trouble for Sindhu is Marin is not mechanical like her last two opponents in quarters and semis. It’ll be tough because, Marin’s is not the same uni-dimensional game as the Chinese or Japanese whose general trajectory and gameplans and monotones can be predicted.
“They wont think too much, and aren’t upto the tactical level that Marin is,” says Aravind Bhat, former international who’s trained with both Sindhu and Marin (in Indian Badminton League) in the past. The Asians reply on momentum, while Carolina Marin is all variety and flair and combativeness and colour. And drama.
While the left hand is crucial, Marin also knows how to vary pace of the game, and is incredibly fit and primed for this final – which she believes is her’s to take. Sindhu has been in top form, but there will be a few gaps to exploit. Marin tends to pick points in a cluster, but she also loses them at a stretch. “Once she gets points, Sindhu should look to gather many. It is Marin’s weakness that she gives points at a stretch, and her patience drops quickly.”
Sindhu should not be playing loose or drowning in unforced errors at that juncture, immediately after she’s won one point. The knife will need to burrow deep once it’s in.
Sindhu has been playing at a good speed, though there were a fair share of errors in the semis and a few tired returns into the net, which makes recovery all-important. A few delaying techniques will need to be brought in if she has to win this game of chess with a shuttle-and-racquet.
She has a kick to her smash – a bit of turn and power, and fake, and deception. Against Okuhara, Sindhu played 80 percent of her shots on the Japanese girl’s backhand and the flat tosses might not be useless against Marin too. It will also be the fight between the world’s two greatest coaches. At 0-3 in the 2nd when Sindhu seemed to be flagging down, Gopichand pumped his chest telling her that she needed to step it up now. The 10 points followed that.
Marin had a big point to prove against Chinese Xuerui Li in the semis – and she said, “It was an emotional match because she was the reigning champ. I wanted to beat her and not see myself as less than her. I maintained a confident body language,” she would say.
Sindhu, as such, is a surprise package Rivas might not have planned deeply upon. “I want to give everything I have left to win this gold,” she would say. It will boil down to who’s not happy settling for silver.
Ecstatic but unruffled by burden of expectations after storming into the Olympic finals, Indian shuttler P V Sindhu said she is in fact looking forward to end ace shooter Abhinav Bindra’s reign as the country’s sole individual Olympic gold-medallist.
The two-time World Championship bronze-medallist notched up a sensational 21-19 21-10 victory over the All England Champion from Japan in a pulsating semi-final that lasted 49 minutes.
The World No. 10 from Hyderabad will next take on two-time World Champion and top seed Carolina Marin of Spain in the summit clash tomorrow.
“My target will be to win the gold and I will give my heart out. I feel I really worked hard each and every time. Everybody’s aim is to get a medal at the Olympics, one more match to go. Definitely I feel that I’ve a chance,” Sindhu said.
“It’s nothing like pressure. It’s just that I have to give my 100 per cent. There’s one more match to go, I’m really prepared for tomorrow’s match. It’s not going to be easy. She is a really tough opponent. It’s the Olympic final, and she’s playing really well. It depends who gives her best and does well will win the final tomorrow.
Moments after her win that has assured India a silver, Bindra tweeted, “You’ve no idea how lonely it’s been, I’m waiting for you to join me in the club.”
Responding to the tweet, Sindhu said: “I would make that wish come true. I would give my heart out for that and play my best.”
Excited to make the final in her maiden Olympics, the lanky girl said: “I hope I would give my best tomorrow as well. First time in Olympics and also playing the final tomorrow, is a very great feeling. Just one more match to go. I’m really very focused. Let’s hope for the best.”
“I did not think so far. I just kept on going every single match. The immediate target was to win the next match. If you keep on winning you are going to get a medal.”
Her assured medal comes less than 12 hours after another woman Sakshi Malik ended the anxious wait by clinching the 58kg freestyle bronze through repechage in wrestling.
Congratulating Sakshi, Sindhu said: “I did not meet her. I saw her on TV and I will definitely congratulate her for her bronze. She played really well. It’s a great thing for India.”
On her strategy tomorrow against the left-handed Marin, a two time World Championship winner, Sindhu said she would just have to go by her coach Pullela Gopichand.
“She’s playing really well. It’s going to be good match. I will be really prepared for everything. It wont’ be easy. Each one has a different style of play and strategy. It just depends on that day. She’s left-handed. I have my coach he will tell me the strategies. It will be a different condition. it will be very different.”
In her moment of glory, Sindhu did not forget top laud her rival.
“It was anybody’s game in the first even as I was leading 18-17. She did not give up also. When It was 19-18, those two points were really very important. In the second game, it was equal till 10 points. I took a break. I took a huge a lead from there on. I never took it easy, as you never know what would happen after that,” she said.
“Each and every point was very important and I was really focused. I’m very happy. there were long rallies, she played really well and there were so many unforced errors. My coach kept me going. I was really alert for every point,” she added.
Asked if she was prepared for the hard yards she had to put in today’s match, Sindhu said she knew it wasn’t going to be easy.
“I never thought it would be an easy match. You just don’t look at the scores, there were a lot of rallies long, and she was not leaving anything. Each and every point was very important for me,” he said.
“Even though I had a few unforced errors with my tap into the net, coach said ‘never mind and just keep going and I became alert for every point’,” she elaborated.
National coach Pullela Gopichand said they will give their best in the gold medal match tomorrow.
“She has played fantastic. She has played each match from the beginning – against Michelle, Wendy… She has really played well and she has fought hard. Today’s win was great.
She is up against a tough player in Carolina Marin on Friday.
We will give our best shot and let’s see how it goes,” Gopichand said after Sindhu’s victory in the semifinal.