Tokyo Olympics: Who is PV Sindhu's opponent in the quarter-finals?
We are headed for a thriller as World No. 7 PV Sindhu will take on one of her biggest rivals, Akane Yamaguchi for a spot in the semi-finals at the Tokyo Olympics.
PV Sindhu has started her Tokyo Olympics journey with a bang and has won every match she has played on her second outing at the Olympics till now. Through to the quarters after a dominant display against Denmark's Mia Blichfeldt, PV Sindhu has become the second Indian badminton player, after Saina Nehwal, to enter the quarter-finals of the Olympics, two times on the trot. Needing just 40 minutes to seal the deal and set up a mouth-watering clash against arch-rival Akane Yamaguchi, Sindhu won in straight games, 21-15, 21-13.
Who is Akane Yamaguchi?
A former World No. 1, the 5ft 1in Japanese, Akane Yamaguchi is not to be underestimated at all because of her short stature. In fact, the 24-year-old has fashioned her body in a way so that she can take full advantage of her height and cause trouble for the opponents. Mind-blowingly agile with quick-reflexes, Yamaguchi has her opponent's tire out because of her excellent shot-making skills.
Currently, she is the World No. 5 and is a raging favourite for a podium finish. A bronze medallist at the 2018 World Championships, Akane Yamaguchi can be formidable on court and is not to be taken lightly. After her 2016 Rio Olympics journey ended in the quarters after she lost to fellow Japanese and eventual bronze medallist, Nozomi Okuhara, 21-11, 17-21, 10-21, Yamaguchi will be determined to better her performance in Tokyo.
In 2021, Akane Yamaguchi's best performance came at the 2021 All England Open where she made it to the last 8 before it was PV Sindhu who handed her a loss in a thriller.
At the Tokyo Olympics, Yamaguchi has maintained a clean record so far, having won both her Group Stage matches - against Pakistan's Mahoor Shahzad and Great Britain's Kirsty Gilmour. For the pre-quarters, Yamaguchi needs to tame South Korea's World No. 18 player, Kim Gaeun to fix the date with PV Sindhu.
What are PV Sindhu's chances against Akane Yamaguchi?
Although PV Sindhu literally towers over this sprightly Japanese ace, it needs to be remembered that she will have the roaring support of the home crowd and can be a very tricky opponent. Out of 18 meetings, Sindhu has had the last word on 11 occasions, with their most recent one coming at the All England Open 2021 where they played a nail-biter before Sindhu won, 16-21, 21-16, 21-19.
In the quarters of the Tokyo Olympics, PV Sindhu will hope to extend her head to head tally over Yamaguchi and remain on track for a maiden gold medal at Tokyo, but it won't be an easy job at all and we can very well expect another hair-rising encounter!