China made sure of at least two gold medals in Olympics badminton on Friday when Wang Yihuan, the top-seeded world No 1, reached the final of the women's singles.
Wang did that with a 21-13, 21-15 win over Saina Nehwal, the fourth-seeded Commonwealth champion who was the first Indian player to have reached the semifinals of any Olympic event.
Wang will face compatriot Li Xuerui in the final, while Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei face Xu Chen and Ma Jin later Friday in an all-Chinese mixed doubles title match.
For the first time in the Games, Wang Yihuan found the same heavy artillery, with sudden smashes and lunging kills at the net, that she used when taking the world title in this same Wembley arena a year ago.
By contrast Nehwal, perhaps feeling the pressure of huge national expectations, looked tense and leg-weary and did not reproduce the level she reached while beating Tine Baun, the former world No 1 from Denmark, in the quarterfinals.
This made Nehwal look slightly slow while Wang increasingly imposed a physical and psychological presence with her height, aggression, and confidence.
Only briefly, when trailing 11-12 in the second game, did it seem that the woman from Shanghai might falter.
But she changed all that by taking seven of the next eight points, punching her clears hard and accurately, using round-the-head smashes effectively, and holding her own in the flat, fast mid-court exchanges too.
"I felt relaxed," said Wang. "I am very happy now. China is certain of winning the gold medal, so part of the job is done."
Nehwal however admitted to disappointment with her movement.
"She (Wang) was strong and moving pretty well, and I was not moving so well at all today," the woman from Hyderabad said.
"I didn't play so good, and I was struggling to make some strokes. I was feeling a little bit nervous and didn't play freely. Perhaps I wasn't taking enough time. But she played excellently. I didn't see her play so well as this in the previous rounds."
Despite this, Nehwal still has a chance of adding another piece of history to her achievements if she can win the bronze medal match against Wang Xin, the former world No 1 from China.
Wang lost the other semifinal to Li, the 21-year-old from Chonqing, who caused one surprise by winning the All-England Open in March, then another by getting the vote into the Chinese team ahead of Wang Shixian, another former world No 1, and yet another by beating her second-seeded opponent 22-20, 21-17.
Li showed produced brilliant overhead deceptions, both with slices and round-the-head, including one exceptional reverse slice return of serve in the second game, which sailed for a clean winner and returned her to parity at 15-15.
"I had never beaten Wang Xin before so I tried very hard," said Li.
"There is less pressure now because I'm in the final against a teammate. All I have to try to do is my best."
China also has two semifinalists in the men's singles, the top seeds in the men's doubles, and one pair, Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei, through to the final of the women's doubles, making a clean sweep of all five titles still possible.