Badminton: Sindhu beats Blichfeldt, sets QF clash with Yamaguchi

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PV Sindhu defeated Denmark’s Mia Blichfeldt to advance to the quarterfinals of the women’s singles event at the Tokyo Olympics on Thursday. World No. 7 Sindhu got the better of World No. 12 Blichfeldt 21-15, 21-13 in 41 minutes to make the last eight, where she will face Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi, a 21-17, 21-18 winner over South Korea’s Kim Gaeun.

With her win, Sindhu improves to a 5-1 head-to-head record against Blichfeldt, whose sole victory against the Indian came at the Thailand Open earlier this year.

In the first game, Sindhu, the sixth seed, began with a couple of errors before 13th seed Blichfeldt threw in a bunch of errors herself for the Indian to lead 4-2. Sindhu then began into settle into a rhythm a little bit better than Blichfeldt. Both players exchanged body smashes but, from 6-4 onwards, the Indian won five of the next seven points, going into the break with an 11-6 lead, thanks to a big inside-out forehand smash, celebrated by a shout of “Come on”.

After the break, Blichfeldt began to get into the game. From 13-6 down, the Dane won the next five points, appearing to target Sindhu’s backhand side of the court with smashes and long lifts before going in to finish off the points. Blichfeldt also used her touch to drag Sindhu forward and out of position on multiple occasions and while the high-risk strategy did have some success, it also resulted in some errors. Four such errors helped Sindhu move ahead to 16-12 before she again fought back, taking charge of points to cut the deficit to 16-15.

Blichfeldt’s high-risk game continued to yield errors, though, and a body smash from Sindhu brought up five game points for the Indian, who sealed the game when a short forehand from Blichfeldt landed wide.

Sindhu carried her momentum into the second game, where she ran off to a 5-0 lead before an incorrectly judged leave helped Blichfeldt get on the scoreboard. While the Dane continued to catch Sindhu out of position with her drop shots and down the line smashes, she also gave up several points too easily with her errors. A sharp crosscourt forehand and a long lift followed by an inside-out forehand helped Sindhu go into the break leading 11-6 again.

This time Sindhu didn’t let Blichfeldt get as close as she had in the first game. She stayed ahead and, from 16-11 on, won the next four points, aided by errors from the Dane at the net and at the back of the court. The first two of Sindhu’s nine match points went by before she deflected a body shot with a short backhand winner to seal victory.



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