Sindhu Assures Herself: Tomorrow Will Be Different

Saturday, August 24, 2019
TEXT BY DEV SUKUMAR | BADMINTON PHOTO

Having faltered in three straight Major Event finals, how will Pusarla V Sindhu approach her fourth?

The Indian, who made her fourth straight Major Event final with a 21-7 21-14 rout of Chen Yu Fei, has tired of hearing how often she has slipped in World Championships (2017, 2018) and Olympics (2016) finals; tomorrow she gets an opportunity to set the record straight. A bonus will be the historic significance of a possible win – no Indian has claimed a World Championships gold medal.

“It’s going to be a bit different,” asserted Pusarla, perhaps trying to convince herself as much as her listeners. “I will give my 100 per cent. The rest I don’t know. That should be fine. There’s not much of strategy, because we know each other’s game, we play each other all the time. It’s just that on the court, every point matters.”

It will help that she beat All England champion Chen Yu Fei in just 40 minutes, barely breaking a sweat. It will also help that she can put up her legs and relish the possibility of a long match between the other two semifinalists, Ratchanok Intanon and Nozomi Okuhara.

“Sindhu brought her A-game today,” shrugged Chen Yu Fei, after being on the receiving end of the demolition job in the semifinals of the TOTAL BWF World Championships 2019. “I wasn’t speedy, I couldn’t adjust physically, I couldn’t get my energy level up for this match as I was a bit tired after yesterday’s match. Sindhu was very speedy today and was at 100 per cent.”

Chen’s loss meant that China’s gold medal drought in women’s singles, which started in 2013, will continue into its sixth year.

Never in the 40-minute match did Pusarla concede the lead; the Indian was all steely focus and muscular presence that diminished Chen. Pusarla’s big hitting from the back homed in accurately on the sidelines; her own defence, as she had demonstrated in the classic battle against Tai Tzu Ying in the quarterfinals, was sound enough to easily repel the wares that Chen dished out.

A bear hug from coach Kim Ji Hyun.

The Indian took off at a fast clip in the opening exchanges and a frazzled Chen struggled to get a hold on the proceedings, leaking points as she was unable to control her clears to the deep. It was one-way traffic all the way, until a final shot that landed long clinched Pusarla’s third straight World Championships final.

Pusarla acknowledged that the tense quarterfinal against Tai Tzu Ying had served to put her on her toes; it was the sort of win that gave her a booster dose of confidence.

“Definitely it was a really good match. I never lost hope. I kept fighting each point even though I was trailing. I finally got it but it was important that make sure I’m there to fight back,” said Pusarla.

“I’m happy but not satisfied yet, because there’s one more match to go. Definitely I would want to get the gold for sure. But it’s not going to be easy. At the same time, I will have to focus and be patient.

“I was well prepared today. Overall the game went really well, and I hope it goes the same way tomorrow as well… Anything can happen, right?”