PV Sindhu’s 19-21, 21-19, 21-15 scorchingly defiant victory over World No.2 Shixian Wang at Copenhagen’s World Championships on Friday can be rated as perhaps the best comeback in badminton by an Indian in recent years.
It’s the finest and most furious counter-attack, since Sindhu’s previous Houdini act, where only a day earlier, she’d saved five match-points to make the quarters against Korean Yeon Ju Bae. Which itself was the fiercest riposte seen by Indian fans since Sindhu (her again) had lit up the Delhi summer with five back-to-back come-from-behind thrillers in this year’s Uber Cup.
While gaining this flattering and fiery reputation as world badminton’s ‘Comeback Kid’, the 19-year-old Sindhu has also assured herself of her second consecutive bronze medal from the World Championships. It could get better when she faces Tzu Ying Tai of Taipei, a plucky but less puzzling player, ranked 8 to Sindhu’s 12 on Saturday. While experts are raving about the teenaged Indian’s ability to soak in the early punches, trail in scores and come raging back into matches that would seem like lost causes, the Copenhagen comeback is even more formidable since it came against China’s most tenacious fighter Shixian Wang.
Shixian’s known for her long-drawn battles herself, but after paddling around noisily for the first set, looked like a sitting duck when Sindhu broke the shackles and unleashed her smashes to emerge victorious from being a set and 16-12 down.
A typical Sindhu comeback becomes imminent when she starts raising roaring decibels after picking points.
On Friday, she seemed to be falling off not too long after Saina Nehwal had gone down to World No 1 Xuerui Li. Much like last year’s Worlds in China where she beat two home girls on way to her maiden bronze, Sindhu changed gears in a blink to overturn Shixian’s challenge with a swift change in strategy, just five points away from losing the match.
With her ability to attack incessantly throughout three sets, and a fitness to match that intent, Sindhu had left it for late. But like it has been all summer, she turned into a woman possessed when cornered by the Chinese who deals in deft drops and out-lasting rivals. Sindhu had lost to Shixian the last three times they’ve met (head-to-head 3-2 in the Chinese’ favour), but the big stage merited this repartee turn into a one-way retribution, and Sindhu unveiled the big smash as the tiring Shixian was blitzed out of the contest in an hour-and 25-minutes.
It helps that the Indian has improved defensively against the Chinese, to have the confidence of giving back with an unbridled attack. “She keeps fighting, and both today and yesterday, she showed courage to change strategy mid-match and play cleverly,” said coach P Gopichand, who is getting accustomed to continued…