PV Sindhu — who now has a record-equalling five medals at the World Championships — and Sai Praneeth created new memories in one of the great days for the sport in the country. It is, after all, the first time that two athletes from India will win men’s and women’s singles medals at one World Championships.
Their wins are special for separate reasons. For Sindhu, it will give her the belief that she possesses the skill set to beat Tai Tzu-ying, widely recognised as one of the greatest the sport has ever produced. Against her, the margin for error is zero. Sindhu, who has lost to her 10 times, realised this 15 minutes into the match. “This looks like the final of the Asian Games,” one of the commentators said.
It was a fair summation of the first game. Tai was turning water into wine. The 24-year-old Indian went long, went short and tried to hit the chalk down both flanks. She basically threw the entire kitchen along with the sink at Tai, but had little to show in return. During the changeover, a switch was silently flicked on.
Sindhu did not look back as she played two lights-out games. The win — 12-21, 23-21, 21-19 — means Sindhu, who will face China’s Chen Yu Fei for a place in the final, has equalled Zhang Ning’s record haul of five medals at Worlds.
For Praneeth, one of the only three Indian singles players to reach the final of a Super 300 tournament or above, this shows that he can wine and dine with the best. In taking down Asian Games champion Jonatan Christie 24-22, 21-14, Praneeth, who lay spread-eagled on court before letting his emotions get the better of him, laid down a marker.