Easy doesn’t do it for PV Sindhu. A day after saving three match points in a gruelling semifinal, Sindhu was again pushed to three games in the China Open final. And much like Saturday, the Indian brought the goods to beat China’s Sun Yu 21-11, 17-21, 21-11 in 69 minutes to win her maiden Super Series title. The world No 11 will now move back into the top 10 while Saina Nehwal, who crashed out in the first round, will slide to 11th from 6th.
Despite going into the match with a 2-3 head to head record, it was the Rio Olympic silver-medallist who raced off to a great start. Sindhu used fine feints and drop shots to hassle her opponent. The latter was the key. Against the 6’0” Sun, Sindhu used a tactic her shorter opponents have often used against her; making the Chinese go low. The ploy, along with numerous line errors from her opponent, paid dividends as Sindhu wrapped up the first game in 18 minutes.
That Sun Yu’s first lost game of the tournament came in the final, spoke volumes of the pressure the local favourite was under. The 22-year-old had already contested and lost five finals this year, including the Australian Super Series title to Saina Nehwal. Playing at the Haixia Olympic Sports Center in Fuzhou packed with home fans further put her under the pump.
Looking to put the contest to bed, Sindhu earned a 6-3 lead but Sun drew level with a couple of bodyline smashes and a precise drop which prompted coach Madhumita Bisht to say, “Aap bhi neeche jaao. (You too go low.”) Sindhu established a four-point lead at 14-10 before Sun roared back again with a crisp return. The fans started chanting “one more point.” Sun obliged them with six. A crisp return, two well-disguised drops, and errors from Sindhu pushed Sun to 16-14 and she took the game 21-17.
Back on her winning side of the court, Sindhu looked more comfortable despite the deciding game going to 6-6. Sindhu pulled out quick returns, cleared well with the forehand and went into the change over leading 11-8. Sun Yu then imploded. She hit it long, she hit it wide and struggled with the lift as Sindhu opened up an eight-point advantage at 19-11. She caught the backline to earn nine match points and converted the first with a forehand clear.
With the win, Sindhu checked off another box. A Super Series trophy finally in her cabinet, Sindhu’s next target is climbing to the top of the rankings. After that? Well, the next Olympics are only four years away.