It was one of the easiest title marches for PV Sindhu when she beat Scottish Kirsty Gilmour 21-15, 21-9 at the Malaysia Masters Grand Prix Gold tournament on Sunday – a 32 minute 21-15, 21-9 saunter.
But it is in gathering these tournament victories, albeit at a rung just below Super Series, that Sindhu can cultivate the habit of going the distance and lasting the deep end of the playing week. For a season or two now, the 20-year-old has scored some dazzling upsets and claimed eye popping scalps, but there’s nothing better than compiling top podium finishes regularly when aiming for consistency.
It was in the semis at Penang, Malaysia, on Saturday that she also snuck one past Korean Sung Ji Hyun in what was sweet revenge for a three-set rough loss at the World Championships last year. Sindhu had always enjoyed an upper hand over the Korean until that 1 hour 22 minute marathon last year when both stalked the shuttle relentlessly in a fest of long rallies.
At Malaysia this week, Sidhu would play another three setter over 70 minutes, though she would outlast her opponent and allow her no opening to make a match of the decider. Gilmour had come into the finals having outwitted a pair of Japanese and the Thai Busanan Ongbumrungphan who fancies long games to go with that charming long-winding name and though she plays mostly on the European circuit and has ventured out only to collect points in the Olympic year, Sindhu had learnt yet another lesson from a previous loss – to not take the scarcely seen opponents on the international circuit, lightly, post her loss to Michelle Ki at the Commonwealth Games last year.
So Gilmour was packed off without a fuss, but only after thorough appraising of what was coming at her. “It ended up an easy match, but I wasn’t overconfident. It is good motivation to start the year with a title,” said the Hyderabadi who is gaining maturity in handling matches against lower ranked opponents.
You don’t need to psyche her up against the big names – she’s always done well or prepared well against them, but she had earlier been guilty of losing to unfancied players, harming her consistency and ability to put together five good days of match play in pursuit of titles.
“Semis were tough. Sung never leaves the shuttle, so the long rallies are a challenge. But I am glad I could take charge in the third game. I am finishing off well,” she said, glad that for a second time in two days she could wrap up early running up huge leads.
Next up is the Syed Modi tournament at Lucknow, where as third-seed she is placed in the bottom half of the draw. Should she keep her head down and win the winnable matches without hiccups, and should Saina Nehwal, the top seed there make it to the finals, a good contest can be expected two years after Nehwal beat a younger Sindhu at the same venue. Less impetuous in her ways now, this might end up a furious face off.
BAI announces cash reward
The Badminton Association of India (BAI), meanwhile, announced a cash award of Rs 5 lakh for the shuttler. “I congratulate her for this stupendous win. She won the title in 2013 and this time she was quiet keen to achieved the feat again and she did it. I am proud of her and wish her luck to win more such titles in the future,” BAI President Akhilesh Das Gupta said in a release.