PV Sindhu lone bright spot, doubles pairs lose at World Championships
To prepare for the world championships, PV Sindhu had distanced herself from all distractions, even drastically reducing her mobile phone use for a couple of weeks in the build-up to Basel.
Sindhu skipped the Thailand Open this month, worked on deception, and extended training sessions, all for one purpose—to vie for the gold which has eluded her the last two years despite reaching the final.
Sindhu’s put all the hard work and focus into practice as she began her campaign at the St. Jakobshalle arena in the Swiss city on Wednesday with a 43-minute victory to enter the third round.
Being the fifth seed had its perks as Sindhu got a bye in the opener and took on Chinese Taipei’s world No 45 Pai Yu Po in the second round. The Rio Olympics silver medallist barely broke a sweat as she beat her unseeded rival 21-14, 21-15, extending her head-to-head record to 3-0.
“She had been preparing with (coach) Kim Ji-hyun for the world championships. They were working on rectifying the areas where Sindhu had been making mistakes. She worked on perfecting her corner shots and also drop shots, and her game at the net,” said India assistant coach Mohammed Siyadath Ullah.
The four-time world championship medallist—two silver and bronze each—did not need to hit top gear. After a bit of competition at the start, the world No 5 extended her lead and Pai could never catch up. The Chinese Taipei player made too many forced errors, giving away easy points following which Sindhu pocketed the first game.
Sindhu’s superior court coverage saw her take a 6-1 lead in the second game but Pai fought back. She targeted the Indian’s backhand to make it 10-all. Pai even led 11-10 at the mid-game break.
But Kim and chief national coach Pullela Gopichand’s pep talk worked as Sindhu showed her class in the second half, quickly pocketing the match.
The Hyderabad player next faces a familiar foe in American ninth seed Beiwen Zhang. Sindhu has a 4-3 record and has also won their previous two meetings. However, they are yet to meet this year.
However, all Indian doubles pairs in action lost. Japanese eighth seeds Shiho Tanaka and Koharu Yonemoto took 33 minutes to beat Meghana Jakkampudi and Poorvisha S Ram 21-8, 21-18 in the second round of women’s doubles.
Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy, on the verge of causing an upset, wasted four game points in the first game to lose the momentum and go down 20-22, 16-21 in 52 minutes to Chinese seventh seeds Du Yue and Li Yin Hui. The loss ended India’s campaign in women’s doubles.
Later, Chinese sixth seeds and 2019 Sudirman Cup winners Han Cheng Kai and Zhou Hao Dong beat Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy 21-16, 21-19 in 33 minutes in the men’s doubles second round, extending their head-to-head record to 3-0 against the world No 25 Indian pair.