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Sindhu on song

Sindhu on song
Highlights

Her talent was always evident. From the time she first served notice as a prodigiously gifted shuttler, PV Sindhu was champion material. Her rise to the top of the ladder (she is World No 4 currently) comes as no surprise because she has been a good learner who goes the distance to work on her strengths and weaknesses

Her talent was always evident. From the time she first served notice as a prodigiously gifted shuttler, PV Sindhu was champion material. Her rise to the top of the ladder (she is World No 4 currently) comes as no surprise because she has been a good learner who goes the distance to work on her strengths and weaknesses.

In a way, she blossomed into an all-round player because of the regimen driven into her by her mentor, Pullela Gopichand, a known tough taskmaster, who has churned out champions from his state-of-the-art Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy (PGBA).

However, it is not that every trainee has been top-grade performer. After all, it is an inherent talent that is a pre-requisite for any athlete to make the higher grade. To that exclusive league belong the likes of Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, Parupalli Kashyap, Kidambi Srikanth and HS Prannoy.

The careers of Saina and Sindhu have an amazing parallel to each other. Unlike in tennis, where one remains clueless for the ‘after Sania who?’ paradox, in badminton, Sindhu has risen almost around the time the career path of the original numero uno has been on a downslide.

What is remarkable about Sindhu is that she has been defeating the best of Chinese opponents with nonchalant regularity, unlike Saina, who has yet to master those opponents, save for a win here and there. This is where the comparisons between the two ought to end, once and for all. Somehow, there is a possibility that unknown to her, Sindhu adopts a different variant of the killer-instinct in events that also feature Saina.

The recent World Championship is a classic case in point. The Korean Open Super Series success will be more memorable for the Hyderabad girl, who is a Deputy Collector in Krishna district, as she settled scores with the reigning world champion Nozomi Okuhara after a hard-fought 83-minute title clash. Of course, in terms of quality, their immediate previous encounter, where the Japanese had the last laugh, was a more intensely fought battle.

What goes without saying is that in the three weeks since the Worlds, Sindhu seems to have reworked on her game and also approach to the net, which helped achieve the desired results in Seoul, despite Sindhu being a bit shaky in the initial rounds. That she gathered steam and conquered Okuhara stands testimony to her determination to be the best woman shuttler on earth, a pinnacle Saina has scaled at the peak of her career.

What remains to be seen is how Gopichand will squeeze in his time between the two now that Saina is back in the Academy after a three-year break.

Meanwhile, Sindhu has to prove that she is consistent at the top. The test will come on Tuesday when she opens her campaign in Tokyo where the Japan Open Super Series championships gets underway. Quite apparently, Okuhara will raise the bar as she will be playing in her backyard. That is something Sindhu has to be prepared for.

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