Superstar PV Sindhu and young gun Lakshya Sen lived up to expectations by grabbing gold medals as India swept the singles badminton competition at the Commonwealth Games for the first time in Birmingham on Monday.
India’s sporting icon Sindhu added a CWG gold to her already bulging collection with a convincing straight game win over Canada’s Michelle Li. The world number seven from India outplayed her 13th ranked opponent 21-15, 21-13 in front of a packed crowd at the NEC arena.
Later in the day, 10th-ranked Sen came from behind to end Ng Tze Yong’s giant-killing run in the competition. The 20-year-old defeated the world number 42 from Malaysia 19-21, 21-9, 21-16. Sen trailed for majority of the first game but stayed close to the Malaysian who had accounted for world champion Yew Kean Loh and Kidambi Srikanth in his previous two matches.
Sen made it 19-18 from 16-19 before Yong produced back-to-back forehand winners to gain a game point. Sen misjudged a baseline call after a grueling rally to hand the advantage to Yong.
The second game was one way traffic after Sen led 11-9 at the interval. The Indian took 12 points in a row after the break to level the final. Yong made a slew of unforced errors and it seemed he wanted to preserve energy for the third game.
Sen was at his attacking best in the decider and led until the end. Yong tried his best to mount a comeback but Sen was unstoppable. He converted his first match point following a long rally, leading to a frenzied celebration that saw him throw his racket into the stands.
“It was tense in the beginning, I had to work really hard. Yong also played a great tournament. Congratulations to him as well,” said Sen after a hard fought contest.
Earlier, the 30-year-old Michelle had to produce something special for her first win against Sindhu in eight years but the Indian did not give her a window. Sindhu was clinical in her short game and pounced on the slightest of attacking opportunities.
Michelle had beaten the 2019 World Champion way back in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014. In the first game, Michelle was trying to get points by playing close to the net while Sindhu was the more attacking one.
A smash on Li’s left made it 7-5 before the Canadian came with a drop shot on Sindhu’s right to make it 7-6. Sindhu took three straight points after the interval to stretch her lead to 14-8. Michelle then netted a regulation forehand drop, leaving her smiling in frustration.
Michelle did come up with two consecutive backhand winners for 14-17 but Sindhu bagged the first game with a swat shot on the Candian’s body. The Hyderabadi took a 4-2 lead in the second with a brilliant retrieve off her body and was cruising 11-6 at the interval.
The crowd sensed a comeback from Michelle who won the longest rally of the match with a forehand winner. Sindhu however shut the door on her and completed a fine win with a cross court winner.
“I had been waiting for this gold for a long time and finally I have got it. I am super happy. Thanks to the crowd, they made me win today,” said Sindhu after the final.