PV Sindhu missed out on a second successive Olympic final after losing 18-21, 12-21 to second seed Tai Tzu Ying in the semifinals on Saturday. She will face China's He Bingjiao in the bronze medal match on Sunday. Sindhu trails He 6-9 in their career head-to-head. China's Chen Yufei defeated her compatriot He 21-16, 13-21, 21-12 in the first semifinal on Saturday.
Sindhu had made the final at the previous Olympics in Rio, where she lost to Spain's Carolina Marin in a tight, three-game match. She was bidding to become only the third woman in history to make two singles final at the Olympics after Bang Soo-Hyun (silver, 1992 and gold, 1996) and Zhang Ning (gold, 2004 and 2008).
Sindhu had not dropped a single game at this year's Olympics before this match and she seemed to carry that confidence in the early stages of the match as she opened up a 8-4 lead in very quick time.
Having played a marathon match against Thailand's Ratchanok Intanon in the quarterfinals, Tai was slow to get off the block and Sindhu's smashes seemed to be in fine working order as Sindhu pushed Tai deep with her power and then used her drop shots judiciously to draw tai to the net.
Tai's play improved as the first game went on but Sindhu managed to keep her nose ahead and was the better player for the majority of the opening game, with even the net chord favouring her on a couple of occasions.
With both the players tied 18-18, Tai lifted her game and used her signature drop shots from the back of the court as Sindhu was caught out of position more than once.
The second game saw Tai at her sublime best and it was one-way traffic all the way as Sindhu struggled to read Tai's deceptive strokes from deep in the court.
Sindhu had lost 13 of her 18 previous matches against Tai, including their previous three matches, and those losses seemed to haunt her as she made a few uncharacteristic misjudgements in the second game where the shuttle landed well within the lines.
Tai has never previously medaled at the World Championships or Olympics but is one of the most-successful players of all time as her 11 World Tour titles are easily the most for a women's singles player.
Tai has spent more weeks than any other player in history as the women's singles world no. 1 and an Olympic final is a befitting reward for her unmatched genius.