Chinese Li Xuerui beats her Compatriot Wang Yihan for Badminton Gold
China’s Li Xuerui took gold in the women’s badminton singles on Saturday, beating countrywoman Wang Yihan in three sets to continue her winning finals record against the world No. 1.
Li, 21, prevailed 21-15, 21-23, 21-17 in a rollercoaster encounter lasting 78 minutes.
The world No. 3 raced to a 19-10 lead in the first game before Wang mounted a short comeback.
At 19-15, Wang netted a crosscourt net shot to hand her opponent a game point, which Li converted with a trademark drop.
Li went in front in a more attritional second game, but Wang took the initiative after winning an epic rally on an outrageous crosscourt smash.
Li, who beat Wang in their last two major finals at the All-England Championships and the Asian championship this year, started finding the tramlines toward the end of the set as Wang kept her game together.
But Li’s charge continued and she squandered two gold medal points before Wang turned it round.
Wang earned her own match point and took it with a straight smash that flicked off the net cord.
The deciding set went in waves, as Li would go three or four points ahead only for Wang to draw level.
The pattern took them to 17-all. Wang conceded two points cheaply, then Li smashed down the line for her third gold medal point.
She took the match with an unreturnable body smash, throwing her racquet into the air and letting out a squeal.
Earlier Saturday, India and Russia grabbed their first-ever badminton medals.
India’s Saina Nehwal won women’s singles bronze on Saturday when her opponent Wang Xin broke down with a knee injury after taking the opening game.
Nehwal, ranked fifth in the world, becomes only the second Indian woman to medal in an individual Olympic sport.
Wang, a former world No. 1 and current No. 2, hurt her knee when stretching for a crosscourt drop shot on her third game point.
She had it taped up and when back on court to smash a winner and take the first game, but collapsed on the second point of the second game, and promptly conceded.
The score was 21-18, 1-0.
Before that, Russian pair Valeria Sorokina and Nina Vislova crushed Canada’s Alex Bruce and Li Michele to take bronze in the women’s doubles.
That competition was weakened considerably with the disqualification of four pairs, including China’s No. 1 seeds Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang, for match fixing.