PV Sindhu won her maiden gold medal at the Commonwealth Games, defeating Michelle Li of Canada by a 21-15 21-13 scoreline in the badminton women's singles event final. This is Sindhu's fifth CWG medal, with two in the mixed team events added to her bronze from 2014 and silver from 2018.
Michelle Li, who won the 2014 Commonwealth Games gold, had beaten a 19-yr-old Sindhu in the semifinals en route to her triumph. Sindhu had her revenge in the next edition, defeating Li in the semifinals before losing in the final to Saina Nehwal in the 2018 Gold Coast games.
Li immediately pounced on the fact that Sindhu wasn't at her physical best (her left ankle was strapped) in the opening point and moved her around to go 1-0 up. However, Sindhu responded with some clever soft drops and a measured floater to the back court to win the next three points.
Errors creeped back into Sindhu's game, as Li clawed her way back to 6-6, although the Indian star responded with a commanding smash down the line to take the lead. Sindhu's movement improved as the game went on, with a well-judged leave meaning she led 11-8 at the interval in the first game.
The raucous Indian crowd in the arena perhaps had an effect as Li shot into the net twice in succession, before a cross court smash from the Canadian went wide. A cleverly feathered diagonal drop shot after a long rally proved Sindhu's class still remained, even if she wasn't at her physical peak.
Li wasn't just a spectator in this game, as a couple of dominant smashes saw her reduce the margin by which she trailed to 14-17. A shot into Li's body, followed by Li shooting twice into the net meant that Sindhu took the first game 21-15. Sindhu's roar returned coupled with coach Park Tae-sang's yell of approval.
Sindhu opted for shorter, aggressive rallies in the second game, going for riskier shots with an eye on her ankle. A well-judged leave at the back court followed by two errors from Li meant Sindhu won six straight points to go 9-3 up.
Li did display her pedigree with a couple of drop shots, but a shot into the net as she stretched to return Sindhu's diagonal drop meant the Indian led 11-6 at the break.
A stunning rally with both players moving each other around ended with a cross-court smash from Sindhu that even a diving Li couldn't retrieve, sparking huge cheers from the crowd. With the score at 13-9 in Sindhu's favour, Li realised her best bet was long rallies - and what followed was the longest rally of the game - 57 strokes displaying the best of both player's ability to retrieve even the impossible, which ended with a incredibly measured smash from Li, right on the line.
Despite her winners, Li's errors continued to show up, going over with a floater and misjudging a drop shot at the net to trail 13-20, with the Canadian looking ever more despondent and resigned to her fate. A short rally, followed by a trademark cross court smash meant Sindhu closed out the game, winning her first Commonwealth gold. Palms over her eyes as Sindhu reacted in relief, and a joyous hug with coach Park on the sidelines - the monkey finally off her back, Sindhu's emotions were plain for all to see.
Earlier, Sindhu opened her campaign with a comfortable 21-4 21-11 win over Fathimath Nabaaha Abdul Razzaq of the Maldives. Husina Kobugabe of Uganda also offered little opposition in the next round, with the Indian Olympic medallist triumphing 21-10 21-9.
Goh Jin Wei of Malaysia was up next in the quarterfinal after having troubled Sindhu in the mixed team event. It was the same once more, as Wei won the first game 21-19, before Sindhu came back to take the final two sets 21-14 and 21-18. A visibly fatigued Sindhu did win her semifinal against Yeo Jia Min of Singapore in straight games, but the score of 21-19 and 21-17 underlined how closely fought the match was.