P V Sindhu became the first Indian shuttler to reach the final at the Olympics when she shocked Japan's Nozomi Okuhara in straight games in the women’s singles at the Rio Games on Thursday.
The two-time World Championships bronze medallist scored a sensational 21-19, 21-10 victory over the All England champion in 49 minutes.
In Friday’s final, the world No. 10 from Hyderabad will meet two-time World champion and top seed Carolina Marin of Spain, who beat China’s Li Xueri 21-14, 21-16 in the first semi-final.
Both Sindhu and Marin will be playing their maiden Olympic final.
The semi-final victory took the Hyderabadi girl a notch higher than her illustrious senior compatriot Saina Nehwal, who won a bronze at the London Games in 2012, the country's first medal from badminton.
Sindhu had a 1-3 head-to-head record against Okuhara but all that went for a toss as she came out with a well-planned strategy, engaging the Japanese in long-rallies and finishing them off with angled returns and deft drops.
In the opening game, which lasted 29 minutes, the Indian opened up a 4-1 lead and rode on Okuhara's unforced errors to extend it to 8-4.
A cross-court forehand return after a long rally, which comprised 32 strokes, enabled Sindhu to go 9-6 ahead and she extended it to 11-6 at the break after Okuhara hit long.
Sindhu kept tossing the shuttle to the rear and effected the sudden smash and drop, which caught the Japanese on the wrong foot.
Leading 14-10, she hit wide and long before coming up with a superb drop.
At 16-18, Sindhu failed to negotiate a body return but then met the shuttle early using her height and sent it sailing out of the Japanese’s reach.
A missed net shot by Okuhara took Sindhu to game-point.
What ensued next was a long rally which ended when Okuhara’s return found the net.
In the second game, Sindhu opened up a 3-0 lead before the Japanese clawed back and went ahead 5-3.
The scores ran neck-and-neck from 5-5 to 8-8 before the players went into the break with the Indian ahead 11-10.
After the change of ends, Sindhu came out all cylinders blazing and reeled off 11 straight points which left the Japanese third seed a hapless spectator.
A deceptive return gave her 10 match-points and she sealed the issue and a place in Olympic history with a stiff smash that beat Okuhara in the forecourt.
Congratulate P V Sindhu