India's Pusarla Sindhu in action during her final women's singles match against Japan's Nozomi Okuhara(REUTERS)
India's Pusarla Sindhu in action during her final women's singles match against Japan's Nozomi Okuhara(REUTERS)

fgdExclusive | Tokyo not far but want to enjoy this: PV Sindhu

Sindhu had lost an epic final against Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara in 2017. But on Sunday, the Japanese was like a candle in the wind and Sindhu became only the fourth player in history to win gold (2019), silver (2017 and 2018) and bronze (2013 and 2014) in women’s singles at the World Championships.
By Sandip Sikdar | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JUN 22, 2020 07:18 AM IST

PV Sindhu’s laughter filled the pause between sentences; she was ecstatic and making no effort to hide it. The bogey of losing finals, of being the ‘silver’ girl, had been dealt with in 37 minutes. That is the time Sindhu, 24, took to become the first Indian badminton world champion after two failed attempts, in 2017 and 2018, had seen her finish second best.

After Basel, no one will ask Sindhu why she loses finals anymore. It was tiring answering different versions of the same poser anyway.

Sindhu had lost an epic final against Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara in 2017. But on Sunday, the Japanese was like a candle in the wind and Sindhu became only the fourth player in history to win gold (2019), silver (2017 and 2018) and bronze (2013 and 2014) in women’s singles at the World Championships.

ALSO READ: Couldn’t hold back tears when I saw Indian flag, heard national anthem: PV Sindhu

Preceding her are China’s Li Lingwei, Gong Ruina and Zhang Ning.

 Also Watch | PV Sindhu receives grand welcome at Delhi airport; vows to win more medals

Following the 21-7, 21-7 victory on Sunday, Sindhu spoke about the previous losses in the final, the role of her coaches in lifting her game, her demolition drive in the semi-final and final and more.

Excerpts:

How does it feel to reach the pinnacle of your sport?

I do not have words to express (my feelings). It is definitely a great moment for me as well as for the country. I am feeling really happy and when the flag was flying high and the national anthem being played, it was a very proud moment. I got goosebumps.

For how long have you been nurturing this dream of being a world champion?

Since I started playing. It was the motivation to work hard. I got bronze medals in 2013 and 2014, that was okay but the last two times (2017 and 2018) when I missed it (the gold); I went through a lot of emotion. So, I definitely wanted this. I was, like ‘okay, I think it is time for me’. It is a much awaited victory.

 

You were in demolition mode in the semi-final and final.

I don’t know how... but I was prepared and focused. Of course, I was preparing for every match but this final was very important for me.

This was probably the shortest final ever in terms of the number of points played.

In terms of the scores, yeah, but there were long rallies. I didn’t think it would be easy. I was prepared for everything. It happens every time against Japanese players, a long match with long rallies. But this time, I made sure I dominated the long rallies. Even though I was leading and gave away a few points, I immediately recovered, got a huge lead and then closed it (game) off. From the beginning, I was dominating but I had to be alert in defence and attack. There was no particular strategy, every point mattered to me.

You clicked a selfie with Okuhara after the match. What did she tell you?

She congratulated me and said that I played really well.

Did the come-from-behind quarter-final victory against Tai Tzu Ying charge you up for the next two rounds?

That match gave me a lot of confidence. To come back and win the second and third games, it was very close. When I was playing that match, even though I was trailing, I had hope. Each point was very important for me and I did it.

You were totally in charge in the semis and the final. What were coaches Kim Ji-hyun and Pullela Gopichand telling you in between points?

With every player there is a different strategy. I was leading and going well but a few times you make unforced errors. So, each point was different and they were telling me to correct whatever had gone wrong. They were saying things like “you could have played that or you could have played this way”. That’s it.

Okuhara barely earned a point in the match. Most of the points she scored were because of your errors...

Yeah. I did not think it was the final, I went in thinking it was just another match, the quarters or semi-finals or something. So, I was telling myself: “Okay, Sindhu, this is like any other match and you just need to give your full effort, your 100 per cent” and that’s how I played and won it.

You were approaching the net very early between points. Did you plan it?

I hadn’t planned it. That is my strength, attacking is my strength and I used it in the right way in the final.

What has been Kim’s role in your growth ever since she joined the national setup earlier this year?

It has been a couple of months that she has joined and it has been really helpful for me. She had something in her mind and Gopi Sir had a few things in his, put together they helped me a lot. I have also done a couple of sessions on how to get the best out of my skills. Kim’s views definitely helped in bringing about a lot of improvement in my game.

Such as?

More of skill. I had been working on all my strokes but sometimes learning from your mistakes also helps. So, she helped me work on my defence among other things.

What did you tell your mother, who was celebrating her birthday in Hyderabad, after the match?

She was so happy. She was saying that it was the best birthday gift she could have got. I wanted to dedicate the win to her which I did at the post-match interview. I thought of gifting her something but now I am gifting her this gold medal. It is only because of the efforts of my parents that I am here today.

People are already talking about the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Everybody wanted this (world title). After the Rio Olympics silver, expectations were really high. This win makes it more special as I am the first Indian to get gold. Tokyo 2020 is not far but right now, it’s step-by-step for me. I have to enjoy and feel this first. I am going to celebrate a lot now. I want to enjoy this moment.

 

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