By B Shrikant
Birmingham, Aug 8 (IANS): India's PV Sindhu claimed her maiden women's singles gold medal in the Commonwealth Games defeating Michelle Li of Canada, the 2014 champion at Glasgow, in the final in straight games here on Monday.
Sindhu played aggressively, controlled the rallies well and did not give her opponent many chances as she won 21-15, 21-13 in the final at the show court in Hall No. 5 at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC).
"I was waiting for this gold for a long time, so I am super happy," said Sindhu in her on-court comments after raising her fist to acknowledge the sparse crowd.
This is Sindhu's second medal of the Birmingham Commonwealth Games after winning a silver in the Mixed Team competition. She had won gold and silver in Gold Coast.
This year, Sindhu had won the Syed Modi International for the second time in January and then claimed the 2022 Swiss Open, defeating Thailand's Busanan Ongbamrungphan in the final in straight games. She then won the Singapore Open title, beating Asian champion Wang Zhiyi of China in the final. In between, she also won bronze in the Badminton Asia Championships.
On Monday, Sindhu started well and took an early lead in the first game, moving Michelle around with precise strokes. She was aggressive and made very few unforced errors.
Sindhu went up 3-1 and maintained her lead throughout the game and though Michelle caught up with her at 5-5, Sindhu surged ahead again and always maintained a 2-3 points advantage. She went into the break at 11-8, mixing her smashes and half-smashes with disguised drop shots to keep the Canadian world No 13 -- the 2014 women's singles champion at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games -- on the back foot and struggling to keep up.
The Canadian played a superb cross-court smash but made an unforced error playing a tight drop, and that remained her story in the entire match.
Sindhu extended the lead to 18-14 and had her first game point at 20-15 which she converted easily to win the first game.
The second game went on similar lines as Sindhu took an early lead and Michelle Li played a bit more aggressively, creating some good opportunities but also making some unforced errors.
A shot sent wide after a good rally by Michelle Li gave Sindhu the match point and the 27-year-old from Hyderabad converted it with a fine smash to bag her maiden gold medal in singles in the Commonwealth Games.