PV Sindhu is not too enamoured by the routine, one would think. She often sleep-walks through regular tour events, seemingly plagued by a lack of interest.
Going into the World Championships, she had lost twice in a row to Akane Yamaguchi and even succumbed to such unheralded names as Cai Yan Yan and Nitchaon Jindapol. It didn’t augur well for her chances in Basel. But what did we know!
It turns out Sindhu was keeping her powder dry to scale the Swiss Alps. By the time, Nozomi Okuhara was put to the sword after a scarcely believable 38 minutes, one could hardly remember the last time one watched such breathtakingly attacking badminton against the best in the business.
But Sindhu has been known to get into such streaks before – when she sheds her poor form and apparent lethargy when the big events come calling. Her best results have often come in fits and starts. That’s why her fans have no reason to feel despondent after a few early departures.
She may not have too many run-of-the-mill tournament wins in her CV, but has five world championship medals and an Olympic podium finish, at the age of 24. She makes it a point to peak when the prizes are the biggest.
Sindhu won just one title last year, and it came at the season-ending BWF World Tour Finals. Given that only the top eight players over the season make it to the event and the women’s singles field has strength and depth rarely seen before, it shows that the Indian star can mix it with the best. Her five lost finals in 2018 – including in the Thailand Open, Asian Games and World Championship in successive outings – may rankle Indian fans, but the triumph in Dubai that will remain fresh in the memory for a long time.
The year before, she reached the final of the world championship and the Korea Open, her next tournament. She ended the year with another two finals in succession – the Hong Kong Open and the Superseries Finals.
Her results leading up to the Rio Olympics weren’t much to write home about, but we know what happened there. Saina Nehwal was still the reigning deity in Indian badminton, but Sindhu had already collected two world championship medals by then.
The Olympic qualification cycle is in full swing. Two players from the same country can make it to Tokyo if they are inside the top 16 in rankings. Sindhu seems have almost sealed a spot, barring illness or injury. Saina, on the other hand, has been lying low for a while due to fitness issues, and is not such a certainty.
The BWF schedule is a taxing one, and one can be sure Sindhu will know what her ultimate aim is. She will now get time to recover from any niggles that she may have and work on areas that need improvement, always keeping her eye on the big prize. She has consistently improved upon her world championship medals. It is not beyond her to do likewise at the Olympics.