PV Sindhu wrapped up a convincing win against Canada’s Michelle. She registered a victory by 19-21, 21-15, 21-17. Though, the Indian lost the first set after a hard fought battle but bounced back in the most lethal fashion she could have, totally outplaying her opponent.
As it happened
#PV Sindhu clinches win by 19-21, 21-15, 21-17 in the second group encounter against Michelle
#Michelle wants to play it with soft hands and that won’t work because the Indian is just taking away the match
# Sindhu had a bit of wobble while picking that smash up as she loses one point
# That backhand slash confuses the Canadian and Sindhu is eyeing the victory… That’s 18-11
# Easy as you like… Simple pickings for the young India… She is stretching lead with every point, it’s 16-11
# Oh!!! What a point for Sindhu, the Canadian player had no clue about that one
# And she punches in the air, PV Sindhu stretches lead to 12-10… We still have an exciting game at our disposal
# Michelle to serve and Sindhu still leads the encounter 11-9
# Another brilliant rally takes Sindhu to lead of 4 points… 11-7
# That was superb stuff from the Indian… Brilliant picks from PV Sindhu earns her another point
# A good rally of shots exchanged between the two shuttlers but Sindhu emerges a better player… She leads 8-5
# Bizarre absolutely bizarre from Michelle and you cannot give away points like that
# Sindhu equals that scoreline as the Canadian hits one outside… It’s 4 apiece now
# Problems increasing for Sindhu… She is trailing and the score is 1-4
# Michelle starts off the final set with a lead against India’s PV Sindhu… It’s 1-0 against Sindhu
# PV Sindhu turns the fortune as she grabs the second set 21-15 to equal the scoring at 1-1
# Make it 18-13 and the Indian girl power is inaction… The lady is on fire in Rio
# PV Sindhu leads the second set 15-11… May be an equalizer is on the cards for India
# The Indian is giving it all as she comes up to take a 2-point lead now
# Sindhu goes down after that rally… She trails Michelle by 6-7
# Yes she does it as the Indian takes a lead of two points… 5-3 is what the score reads
# So we have started with second set… And the match is equally poised… Sindhu would now be looking to make a comeback
#PV Sindhu loses first set 19-21 against Michelle
Sindhu loses game 1 but very close. Still open
— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) 14 August 2016
# Sindhu gets one point… It’s 19-20.. Are we going to see some more exciting stuff???
# Michelle leads the game 20-18… A sure turn around in this first encounter
# it’s 18 all in the first… Clash is getting more exciting and interesting
#Some relief for Indian fans as well as Sindhu as she is now up by a point after a rally of 12 seconds
# And Sindhu goes down by a point… She now trails by 15-16
#The scores are level at 14-14… This is surely something interesting…
# Sindhu is charging with every point… The lead is though one point but that is surely crucial as the score reads 13-12
# Sindhu has begun the contest with some confidence… The lead needs to be maintained
#With 8 minutes already up in the contest Sindhu leads the first set 8-7
# Longest rally has been of 25 seconds… Clearly none of the players are going to go easy
# PV Sindhu has begun her quest and she is right now 4 apiece with the opponent
#PV Sindhu begins her second group stage encounter.
It’s the sort of physique that the Chinese have gone hunting for, hoping that badminton skills can be drummed into those long arms and legs, as afterthoughts almost. They put a lot of store on their women shuttlers being tall and rangy — and getting those steep smashes going to cap swift rallies. It’s a perennial search to find the next Zhang Ning, Xie Xingfang or at least a Yihan Wang. In India, PV Sindhu armed with just those attacking strokes, knows she is blessed. She is tall.
But her opponents love exploiting the double edges of this sword to scythe through her game. On the circuit, her rivals revel in making the 5’10 girl bend. Heading into her maiden Olympics, the 20-year-old Hyderabadi is determined when she says she will now bow to the onslaught, even if it means she needs to learn and relearn how to bend.
It was picking of those drop shots that teased her the most. Those that demanded she contort her spine and bend across her body – toughest for the tall shuttlers. It’s an area she’s putting in maximum effort into. “I have been doing more of downward stroke (countering) because against players who are tall they (opponents) don’t give chances to attack. They keep you more in defence. There are advantages as well as disadvantages with being tall. One thing (advantage) is the (better) reach, (but) they make you bend a lot more,” she says.
It’s where they picked on her, it’s what she wants to bolster in defense. “I have been doing footwork programme and have been doing various sessions to move faster. My strong point always has been my attacking game, but nowadays nobody is giving that (leeway to) attack. Because I am tall (6-foot, 10-inches) everybody plays a fast game and downward strokes,” she says.
Her towering frame also compelled her to work on her footwork.
Standing just shy of six feet, Sindhu had to constantly adjust her footwork throughout her junior career as she outgrew each striding pattern with every growth spurt. Now at 20, the 2013 and 2014 World Championship bronze medallist has attained her maximum height, and under the guidance of her coach Pulella Gopichand, devised the best possible movement on court. “I have been working on it. And that’s important because the stepping and footwork you have during a match can help you go faster,” she explains.
There are other finer adjustments needed. Sindhu travelled to Mumbai to have a special insole fitted into her shoes to support her flat feet. It’s also to avoid a relapse of the navicular bone injury she suffered in her right foot in February 2015. “From here on till the Olympics I need to make sure I’m fit and injury free,” she says.
It’s an open field at Rio, and Sindhu’s on her toes. “You can’t underestimate a low ranked player,” she mentions. She sees world number two Ratchanok Intanon from Thailand and number nine from Chinese Taipei, Tai Tzu Ying as her toughest challengers.
And then there is the prospect of facing compatriot Saina Nehwal.
Placed in the world rankings at number eight, achievements of the bronze medallist from the 2012 London Olympics have served as an inspiration for Sindhu when she watched Nehwal win the country’s first ever Olympic medal in badminton. “I was an U-16 player back then but I remember watching Saina and feeling that one day, I would like to be there,” she says.
This inspiration developed into a rivalry between the two on court, despite the pair meeting just once — in the final of the 2014 India Grand Prix Gold, where Nehwal emerged winner. “She showed the fighting spirit required and the will to play each shot. But I also know that I need to play better than I have been to prove myself. We are friendly off-court, but there is a rivalry on court because only one can go to the next stage,” she adds.
What’s she learnt best from Saina? “While playing, she had really good spirit. She wasn’t leaving anything. Everytime she was fighting against someone she had the spirit in herself. The fighting spirit was something we have to learn from her,” she says.