Rio de Janeiro: Going into the final, she carried the expectations of an over a billion Indians to win the gold at the mega event in Rio. But then she was against the best in the world. She was pitted against World No. 1 Carolina Marin of Spain, who, too, like PV Sindhu, was playing in her first Olympics.
Sindhu, like a true fighter, matched the world champion shot by shot and point by point. She came back from behind to take five points on trot to win the first set at 21-19. However, Carolina upped the ante in the second game to win it 21-12 and levelled the score 1-1. But in the battle of supremacy, Carolina prevailed over Sindhu in the last game and won it 21-15. She won the match 2-1 and the gold in the women's singles badminton competition at the Rio Olympics, here on Friday.
Meanwhile, Sindhu became the fourth Indian to win a silver at the Olympics after shooters Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore (2004, Athens) and Vijay Kumar (2012, London) and wrestler Sushil Kumar (2012, London). She also became the fifth woman player from India to win a medal in Olympics history after Karnam Malleswari (Sydney), Saina Nehwal, Mary Kom (London) and Sakshi Malik (Rio).
In the first game Marin started on a positive note and was soon ahead by 5-2, thanks to some early unforced errors by the 21-year-old Indian shuttler. A misplaced serve from Sindhu, followed by some tight placed shots from the world champion increased the lead to 7-3 in favour of Marin. At 9-5, Sindhu came up with a stunning smash to reduce the margin by one point but Marin made it 10-6 with a perfectly placed shot towards Sindhu’s left. Marin increased the margin to 11-6 going into the break.
Marin took another point after the break to take a six point lead but thereafter Sindhu took three straight points to reduce the margin to 9-12. However, she hit a wide shot just outside the baseline to concede a point but an unforced error from Carolina helped Sindhu reduced the margin to 13-10.
With score at 16-13, Sindhu took two points to reduce the margin to 16-15 but Carolina scored the next point through a smash that found Sindhu off guard. What followed that point was the best rally of the game and match as the two finalist matched each other shot by shot both in front of the court and on the baseline, with Sindhu finally prevailing over Carolina who hit it wide outside the baseline to, making 16-17 with Sindhu trailing by one point. Carolina took the next two points for a three point advantage at 18-16 but what followed next was an outrageously and awesomely fantastic game of display by Sindhu. The Indian shuttler after reducing the three point deficit to make it 19-19 went on to win the next two and the game at 21-19.
In the second game Marin raced to 4-0 lead and soon increased it to nine points as she made 11-2 going into the break. Though Sindhu reduced to margin by two points to make it 11-4, she again conceded two points to the Spaniard before winning another to make in 7-14. Though Sindhu fought valiantly to reduce the margin, the gap was too much for her to reduce and she finally conceded the second game to Marin by 21-12.
The third and final game was levelled at 10-10 and Marin went into the mid-game interval leading by a slender one point margin. However, after the break, Marin went 14-10 ahead and the lead was too much of ask for Sindhu to bridge as the Spaniard went to 20-15 before finishing the game in an engrossing encounter.