Jakarta: Star shuttler P.V. Sindhu snatched victory from the jaws of defeat against Vietnam’s Thi Trang Vu 21-10, 12-21, 23-21 in the women’s singles round of 32 at the 18th Asian Games on Thursday.
The World No. 3 breezed past Vu in the first game where the gulf in class between the two players was visible.
But Vu, ranked 52 in the world, made the most of a raft of errors by Sindhu to stun her 21-12 in the second game and take the match down to the wire.
Sindhu frittered away a comfortable lead in the third game when she was leading 18-15.
But Vu was relentless and showed nerves of steel to fight her way back and make it 18-18. Sindhu then needed three match points to huff and puff over the line 23-21.
Saina Nehwal sailed through her first round. Saina handed Iran’s Soraya Aghhajiagha a 21-7, 21-9 defeat in just 26 minutes.
“I did not take it easy but that was a very good match,” said Sindhu, who next takes on hosts Indonesia’s Tunjung Gregoria Mariska. “It was anybody’s game, each point was important. I was making too many errors. She was not leaving any shuttle. It was not allowing me to attack. There was drift here and there but we have to manage.”
Saina will also meet another Indonesian, Fitriani Fitriani.
Seven-time kabaddi champions India were left shell-shocked after their dominance in their favourite event was ended by Iran with a historic 27-18 win in the semi-finals.
For the first time since the sport was introduced at the Asian Games in 1990, the Indian men’s team will be returning home without the gold, ending their 28-year run as defending champions at the Asiad.
“It’s a massive defeat. We lost the match due to the captain’s over confidence, injury played a part, and super tackle,” said India coach Ram Mehar Singh blaming captain Ajay Thakur solely for the loss because of the latter’s “over confidence”.
To date, India had won all the top event in kabaddi from the World Cup and Asia Cup to the South Asian Games. The cracks in the Indian armour this time around were evident when they were handed their first ever defeat at the Asian Games by South Korea earlier this week.
And right from the start on Thursday, the Indian raiders struggled to get points and Iran maintained a strong hold with the help of their dominant defence.
India gave away easy points and both teams went to the half-time break locked at 9-9. Iran then stepped up their game in the second half and with the Indian camp delaying the substitution of their star player Rahul Chaudhary, Iran managed to take firm control. Chaudhary made an instant impact by clinching three points but it wasn’t enough to see his side through.
There was better news for the Indian women’s kabaddi team, however. They entered their third successive final at the Asian Games with a comprehensive 27-14 win over Chinese Taipei in the semi-finals.
India, who won the gold medal in the last two editions of the Asian Games, and will be meeting Iran or Thailand in the final. India had topped Group A to qualify for the semi-finals.
Indian shooters continued to shine with 15-year-old shooter Shardul Vihan providing silver in men’s double trap.
Vihan, who hails from Meerut, had topped the qualification earlier in the day. He then gave 34-year-old South Korean Shin Hyun-woo a great run by shooting 73 in the final. And Shin had to get all his experience into play to clinch gold by one shot. The bronze was bagged by 42-year-old Hamad Ali Al Merri of Qatar. Vihan revealed that Indian coach Mansher Singh handed him key advice before the final. “Sir told me: ‘Every one will be way elder to you. Chad ke khelna (shoot fearless).’ I just did that,” said the class 10 student of Dayawato Modi Academy.
Vihan’s personal coach Anwar Sultan added: “The moment he came to me I knew he would excel at whatever he does. Be it table tennis or badminton or any other sport. He has an amazing muscle memory. Now I will prepare him for the trap event.”