PV Sindhu avenged her defeat in the Rio Olympics gold medal clash in spectacular fashion on Sunday, winning a battle of nerves against Spanish Olympic champion, Carolina Marin, in the final of the Yonex India Open World Superseries here. (HIGHLIGHTS)
The 21-year-old towered over her opponent in a battle that was effectively decided at the net, winning 21-19, 21-16 in 47 minutes.
The crowd packed into the Siri Fort Sports Complex at least three hours before the final day’s proceedings began and there was no doubt which match they had come to watch. This is not to talk of the huge TV audience.
Third seed Sindhu, the world No 5, upstaged the top seed and world No 3, making good her forecast that superior fitness and home support will carry her through. The win made her richer by $24,000 (approx R15.55 lakh).
Sindhu’s only loss this year came in the All England quarters, and her emotional win over Saina Nehwal in the last eight here showed she was at the top of her game.
The final straightaway hit a high tempo and developed into a tactical battle. Sindhu mixed nets drops and cross court tosses to keep Marin back to take the early lead. Using her height, the Indian caught the Spaniard at the net quite a few times.
However, Marin kept fighting back, either turning exciting net dribbles into points or moving Sindhu around. The hot pace both players set also led to some errors, but Sindhu kept just ahead, going 11-9 ahead, with the sheer pace of her game pushing her rival hard.
Marin caught Sindhu with a smash to her backhand to level at 16-all, but Sindhu immediately took control, winning the next rally with a double smash.
At 18-all, the first game seemed set for a nerve-wracking finish but Sindhu, with coach Pullela Gopichand courtside, kept up the intensity, forcing Marin into mistakes at the net to win the game.
In the second game, Sindhu was up 6-2 lead as Marin gasped at the pace she set. Marin’s only hope was to play flat shots, but the Indian was up to the challenge, moving superbly and dropping the aggression. Marin kept muttering ‘Vamos’ as she willed her way to 6-7.
However, Sindhu never wavered in her tactic, which was to use her razor-sharp net game and deep tosses. It became apparent the Spaniard was tiring and slowing down as the rallies turned one-sided.
At 17-13, it became clear the final was for Sindhu to lose. The fitness and focus after Rio had only gone up. The last two points hinted at the Spaniard surrendering, and it was over when Marin netted a return.
Sindhu threw up her arms in triumph, letting out the now-familiar war cry, before rushing to embrace Gopichand.
Denmark’s Viktor Axelson turned the disappointment of losing the final in the last two years by claiming the men’s title, defeating Chou Tien-chen of Chinese Taipei 21-13, 21-10.