Badminton: PV Sindhu starts Tokyo Olympics campaign with easy win

PV Sindhu hits a smash in her Tokyo Olympics opener against Israel's Ksenia Polikarpova. Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

Reigning World Champion PV Sindhu opened her campaign at the Tokyo Olympics with an easy win over Israel's Ksenia Polikarpova in the women's singles Group J match in Tokyo on Sunday.

The 26-year-old Indian, seeded sixth, beat the 58th-ranked Polikarpova 21-7, 21-10 in just under half an hour. The World No. 7 Indian will next play Hong Kong's World No. 34 Cheung Ngan Yi in the group stage.

"Even though it was an easy first match, I didn't take it in an easy way. It wasn't like I wasn't prepared. Every time, it is very important to be focused and be prepared for every single point in every single match," Sindhu said after the match.

"It was quite an easy match but I made sure that we had some rallies and I got used to the court," she added.

Sindhu felt that the expectation on her are greater at this Olympics, saying, "Mentally, physically and experience-wise, a lot has changed. Coming to (Tokyo) 2020 is completely different; back then there were no expectations,"

"I know that I have worked hard and given all my heart all of these years and I think it's time to show now. I've been working on my aggression and my technique and you will definitely see a different Sindhu."

Rio Games silver medallist Sindhu began on an attacking note, but briefly found herself trailing 3-4. However, she moved ahead quickly, aided by Polikarpova's unforced errors, and entered the break with an 11-5 lead.

Soon, Sindhu was on a roll, grabbing 13 straight points. The Indian used her trademark straight and crosscourt smashes and drops to trouble the Israeli, who couldn't utilise the few opportunities that came her way.

Sindhu sealed the first game in her favour when Polikarpova missed a shot.

Polikarpova, who was playing with a strapped knee, continued to struggle with her strokes as Sindhu opened up a 9-3 lead in the second game and then entered the mid-interval leading 11-4.

It was business as usual after the break, with Sindhu riding on the errors of her opponent.

Another wide shot from Polikarpova gave Sindhu 13 match points. The Indian squandered three of them before Polikarpova once again sent the shuttle out to end the match.

On Saturday, the Indian men's doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty shocked the World No. 3 duo of Yang Lee and Chi-Lin Wang of Chinese Taipei in a thrilling Group A match. The Indians won 21-16, 16-21, 27-25, coming back from 17-14 down in the decider to edge the match.

However, B Sai Praneeth jeopardised his chances of qualification to the knockout stage after going down 21-17, 21-15 to World No. 47, Misha Zilberman of Israel, in a men's singles Group D match.