Reigning world champion P V Sindhu advanced to the pre-quarterfinals of women's singles badminton event at the Tokyo Olympics after beating Hong Kong's NY Cheung in a Group J match here on Wednesday. The 26-year-old Indian, who had claimed a silver medal in the last edition in Rio, prevailed over world No. 34 Cheung 21-9 21-16 in a 35-minute match to top the group. This was Sindhu's sixth win over Cheung in as many meetings.
World No. 7 Sindhu will meet Denmark's world number 12 Mia Blichfeldt, who topped Group I. Sindhu has a 4-1 head-to-head record against Blichfeldt, whose only win against the Indian was at the Yonex Thailand Open earlier this year. The shuttler from Hyderabad, seeded sixth, had defeated Ksenia Polikarpova of Israel in her opening match.
Sindhu used her repertoire of strokes, and her ability to vary the pace troubled the Hong Kong player, making her run around the court. The Indian will then come up with perfect placement. Cheung got a few points with her deceptive cross-court returns but she committed many unforced errors to have any chance of putting pressure on the Indian.
Sindhu led 6-2 early on before galloping to 10-3. She committed a rare error before entering the interval at 11-5. The Indian didn't have any trouble after the resumption as she zoomed to 20-9 and pocketed the opening game when Cheung netted a return.
Cheung was looking to script an incredible turnaround in the second game as she extended the rallies and with Sindhu too struggling to control the shuttle, the duo moved 6-6 and 8-8. Sindhu also made judgement errors before sending the shuttle wide again to hand over a slender one point advantage to her opponent.
Cheung tried to put pressure on Sindhu but the Indian wriggled out with her better strokeplay which included a few straight down the line smashes.
Sindhu moved to 19-14 before grabbing six match points but she missed the lines again and netted a shot to squander two match points before sealing it with a smash. Later in the day, B Sai Praneeth will take on M Caljouw of the Netherlands in his second and final men's singles Group D match.
On Tuesday, Indian shuttlers Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy suffered heartbreak after they failed to qualify for the quarterfinals at the Tokyo Olympics despite winning two matches in their group.
The Indian duo had emerged victorious against the England pair of Ben Lane and Sean Vendy in their final Group A match but still missed out on qualifying for the quarterfinals after the three pairs ended with the same points and games won was considered to identify the qualifiers.