While PV Sindhu will be looking to go one better than the 2018 CWG and clinch gold in women’s singles at the Birmingham 2022 Games, Lakshya Sen will be looking to become the men’s Commonwealth Games champion on his CWG debut.
Two-time Olympic medalist PV Sindhu stayed on course for an elusive gold medal while Lakshya Sen found his stride just in time to compete in his first Commonwealth Games final in Birminghamn on Sunday.
Sindhu took advantage of his superior technical superiority to outsmart Singapore’s Yeo Jia Min 21-19 21-17 in a 49-minute contest to reach his second consecutive final. The Indian had also beaten her in the team event.
In the next match, world number 10 Sen lost his way after a dominating start against 87th-ranked Jia Heng Teh of Singapore. Sen, however, recovered to earn a 21-10, 18-21, 21-16 win in the men’s singles semi-final. Satwik Sairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty secured a third gold medal match for India on Monday by beating Malaysia’s Chen Peng Soon and Tian Kian Men 21-6, 21-15 to reach the men’s doubles final. The world number 7 duo was too good for the Malaysians.
It could have been an all-India men’s final, but the error-prone Kidambi Srikanth squandered an opener advantage to lose to Malaysia’s Tze Yong Ng 21-13, 19-21, 21-10. World number 42 Tze had shocked reigning world champion Yew Kean Loh of Singapore in the quarter-finals. After winning the opening match, 13th-ranked Srikanth committed too many unforced errors to fall into the semi-finals. From 4-4 down in the decider, errors rained down on Srikanth’s racquet, leaving him frustrated on the court. While the Malaysian was leading 17-9, there was no return point for the Indian who scored a forehand on a match point.
The silver medalist of the last edition will now fight for the bronze medal, as will India’s women’s doubles pair Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichane who lost to the veteran Malaysian combination of Thinnah Muralitharan and Pearly Koon Le Tan in the semis. final in consecutive matches. In the first men’s singles semi-final, Sen was stretched out by his Singaporean opponent. He relied on a relentless attack to put his Singapore opponent on the back foot and he was able to do so in the opener. A few forehands to the Singaporean’s right helped him take a 1-0 lead in the game.
The momentum shifted to Jia in game two as he slowed the pace of the game. A soft shot followed by a backhand winner made it 8-8 before Jia entered the interval with a 9-11 advantage. A string of unforced errors from Sen saw Jia take the next five points to make it 9-16. Sen tried to hang on to the game, but after the Singaporean took a break to switch boots at 15-18, he was able to level the game when Sen hit a long forehand.
Sen built an 11-7 lead in the decider although Jia made the Indian work hard for every point. The Singaporean also received a final warning for being late between points. Sen had four runs and converted the first with a deft drop shot that set up a backhand winner.
“I didn’t have the rhythm in the second but I managed to do it at the end. The crowd support also helped a lot in the first game,” Sen said. “It was a tough game today. I played him before so I expected a good quick game.
“I wanted to control the net a lot better, but overall and from the back the defense was very good. It was a very good game going into the final,” said Senator Early, former world champion Sindhu, who has a silver and a bronze from the 2018 and 2014 editions, was clearly the best player displayed as she kept a firm grip on the match.
Sindhu seemed a little restricted in his movements with the achilles of his left leg tied. The Singaporean played some fine shots to make it 8-4 early on, but she allowed the Indian to equalise. Sindhu entered the break with a two-point lead after producing a direct drop.
The Indian depended on her technical acumen, producing the right shots at the right time to move forward. Yeo Jia Min was too erratic to put pressure on the Indian, who made it 19-12 with a perfect shot on net. The Singaporean used her cross slices to confuse the Indian, moving her diagonally to close the gap to 16-19. But a forehand return to the net from her gave Sindhu three game points, and she converted it on the third attempt.
It turned into a seesaw battle in game two with the two playing intense rallies, but Sindhu made sure she had her nose to the front in the interval. A wide return and a return to goal put Sindhu two points clear of the final. She wasted two out of five match points before unleashing a perfect body smash to secure her place in the final.