At 17,PV Sindhu might be just a year or two older but she commanded great awe and respect from the bunch at Faridabads Manav Rachna school during a one-day promotional coaching stint. And a few of them shyly approached her with a request for an autograph.
Sindhu has obliged many such requests in what has been a superlative year. In numbers,she vaulted from 151 to 26 in the world rankings,won three international challenge events in the Maldives,Indonesia and India,claimed the Swiss International title and finished runner-up in the Dutch open. She also beat a couple of top 15 players en-route to the quarterfinals of the Indian Open Super Series. To cap everything off,she returned from the Asian Junior Championships in Korea a couple of weeks back with Indias first girls singles title at the event. Sindhu,who just finished her class 12 exam,is however far from done. I want to be World No. 1 but my aim for this year is to break into the world top-10, she said.
Sindhu,on her part,like the schoolkids is in similar awe of her senior pro,and world No. 5 Saina Nehwal. Obviously I want to learn from her. Sainas technique is very good and her flicks are very difficult to play. But what I really want to learn from Saina is how to fight for every point. It is something that I am working with Gopichand sir as well. Before,if I would start losing a rally,I would tend to give up the point. But now even if I am in a poor situation,I dont leave the point until the end., he says.
Sindhu is well aware that there will be bigger challenges ahead. Considering her ranking,she will now have to consistently play top ranked players and also defend the ranking points she has earned. Sindhu however is prepared. I am not worried about pressure. I dont go into a match thinking I have to win. The only thing I am concerned about is playing to my potential. If I can do that,it will be more than enough, she says.
Sindhu is also unconcerned about losing her unknown quantity tag and opponents turning up better prepared this time around. As a player you always have to adapt to your opponents style of play. If my opponents try to attack my weak points,I too have to change my game. I cant play the same game always. Right now I think I have that ability, she says.
Indeed,her entire game has raised its level in the past year. Compared to last year,my attack,rally and strokes and endurance levels have improved. On the senior circuit,matches go on for an hour and it needs endurance, she said. I was also not so strong in my defense but that has improved, she says.
For the moment though,Sindhu doesnt have much on her hands. Her next competition- a national junior ranking tournament- is a month away and while many of her compatriots will be competing at the London Olympics,she will have to remain content watching from home. She came close to going for the Olympics as well but ultimately ran out of time. Far from disappointed,she now has her sights set on the Rio Olympics in 2016. This time I missed out but next time definitely I would like to be there in Olympics. I know Olympics is big and I am working hard to do well, said Sindhu.