Sindhu claims Singapore Open for third title of 2022 - Hindustan Times
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Sindhu claims Singapore Open for third title of 2022

Jul 17, 2022 09:17 PM IST

India’s double Olympic medallist added wins at Syed Modi and Swiss Open with a well-earned win over China’s Wang Zhi Yi.

PV Sindhu has carried the tag of a ‘big tournament player’ from the time she started making inroads into the elite badminton circuit around a decade back. She may not win tour titles regularly but come a major, the Hyderabad player would ensure a medal. This ability also helped her deliver India its first world champion in the sport in 2019.

PV Sindhu(Getty Images)
PV Sindhu(Getty Images)

Since that crowning glory in Basel though, Sindhu’s tour titles had dried up. She reached a couple of finals only to falter at the final hurdle.

But things are coming together in 2022. The world No 7 ended a 29-month barren run in January by winning the Syed Modi India International, which followed the Swiss Open crown in March. On Sunday, she added another feather to her cap, winning her first Singapore Open title on her sixth attempt.

With three titles, the double Olympic medallist has matched her best year on tour. In 2017, she won the India Open, Korea Open and Syed Modi. And it is only July. “I wanted to be more successful, of course. Back then there were hard fought matches. Losing quarters and semis was a bit upsetting. But I have crossed that stage now. I hope the tempo continues for the rest of the tournaments. It is not over yet. This is just the start,” said Sindhu after beating China’s Wang Zhi Yi 21-9, 11-21, 21-15 in 58 minutes.

Sindhu is only the third Indian to win the $3.7 million tournament, earning $27,750. Saina Nehwal (2010) and B Sai Praneeth (2017) are India’s past winners. “I am relieved. It feels really good to be winning finals after a long time. Getting this title means a lot because this will give me a lot of confidence, take me to another level,” the third seed said.

Toss factor

The toss can make a difference between winning and losing in cricket. At times, it can also impact badminton games. Shuttlers prefer to be on the ‘good’ side of the AC drift at the end of the match. World No 11 Wang did the same on Sunday. The contest went according to script with Sindhu racing to a first game lead from the ‘good’ side, winning a remarkable 13 points on the trot from 0-2 down to go 13-2.

The Asian champion dominated after the change of ends to take the second game in 18 minutes.

Knowing she would be playing from the disadvantaged side after the mid-game interval, Sindhu attacked from the start of the third game. She played shots to perfection, disguising drops and using cross-court smashes go 11-6 ahead.

Wang used the drift after the change of ends to close the gap to 11-12 but Sindhu, used to the conditions at the Singapore Indoor Stadium for a week, upped the ante to ensure she never gave up the lead. She kept the shuttle in play, using more drops than her trademark high smash to win the longer rallies. Sindhu reduced her errors and played percentage badminton to win points off Wang’s mistakes. Sensing that the Chinese was giving up under scoreboard pressure, Sindhu went all out in attack in the final minute, blunting her opponent’s shots at the net. A wayward shot that was long gave the title to Sindhu, who raised her hands in elation, letting out a loud shriek.

“She (Wang) played really well. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, that it’ll be long. I was prepared and didn’t take it easy. I have been playing well and been in good form,” said Sindhu, who turned 27 this month.

It was Sindhu’s second straight win over Wang, having beaten her in the All England opener in March. Both were playing their third final of the year. “It was a good match. After winning the first game, I gave her continuous points in the second. It was really hard for me to catch up. But in the third game, each point was important because after the interval she was coming close. It was crucial that I maintained the lead,” said the world No 7.

Sindhu will skip the $500,000 Taipei Open starting on Tuesday and next plays in the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, which starts on July 28. She will target gold, having won bronze in Glasgow 2014 and silver at Gold Coast 2018.

“I am going to enjoy this win. Maybe I'll take a day off and spend time with family because it's been a long tour. It is time to go home and just relax for a bit before I get back to training. It's important that I stay physically and mentally fit and remain injury free. Then the focus will be on the Commonwealth Games followed by the World Championships and Japan Open. I'm hoping for a medal in these events too,” said Sindhu.

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