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PV Sindhu Hits Top Gear Right in Time for Commonwealth Games

It is not just the Singapore Open title, but also the way she went about winning it that inspires confidence in what to expect from PV Sindhu at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
PV Sindhu at Singapore Open

PV Sindhu celebrates her victory at the Singapore Open last Sunday, July 17, 2022.

PV Sindhu is hitting top gear at the right time. With just a fortnight to go for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, she has elevated herself as the favourite for the gold medal in the women’s singles category in Birmingham with her maiden title win at the Singapore Open last Sunday. 

It was Sindhu’s first Super 500 series title of the season. And, the 27-year-old did not waste time after her triumph to state her primary goal this year. In a post-match courtside interview, Sindhu was asked to reflect on the victory and on her upcoming tournaments. She mentioned Birmingham, saying the win in Singapore would set the tone for her gold medal quest at the CWG.

“The whole week, a couple of matches, have been easy, but each match has been important from the start. I think now it’s time for me to relax a bit, focus on the Commonwealth Games. It’s not over yet and as I mentioned, yes this is just the start. This will give me a lot of confidence,” Sindhu said. 

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Prakash Padukone was quoted by MidDay as saying that Sindhu is a sure bet for gold at the CWG. The former CWG and All England champion was confident Sindhu would lead the charge for what could possibly be India’s biggest medal haul from badminton at the Games.

“PV Sindhu is a certainty for gold in her event. And we should have two medals in the men’s singles with Kidambi Srikanth and Lakshya Sen expected to do the honours. In men’s doubles too, I think we have a sure medal (Chirag Shetty-Satwiksairaj Rankireddy). Then, we have a balanced team in the team championships event too,” Padukone said.

The CWG badminton tournament is no cakewalk. With some of the top nations in the game present in the fray, it would be as tough as any BWF world tour event. Preparation with attention to detail is key and Sindhu, who has had a mixed bag of a season, seems to have set things for peaking in July-August.

Dinesh Khanna claimed India’s first badminton medal, a bronze at the 1966 edition. Since then, India has won 25 medals at the CWG, including seven gold. In the last edition at the Gold Coast, India won an unprecedented six medals, including two gold. Sindhu’s form will have a huge bearing on whether India would be able to match that show, or even better it this time around. And she seems to be in the kind of form that saw her win two Olympic medals in the past.

Sindhu went into Singapore trying to shake off a lull period that also saw her have an average outing at the Uber Cup and many tour events. She had begun the season with a bang, winning the Syed Modi International and Swiss Open BWF Super 300 titles back in January and March.

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She beat China's Wang Zhi Yi in the final, winning 21-9, 11-21, 21-15. It was a hardfought match against a tricky opponent who tested Sindhu in patches, and pushed her back too, especially in the second game. 

Of course, the final scoreline hints at a one-sided affair but that is testament to Sindhu’s game plan and how she maintained calm and control in tricky patches of the match which could have gone either way. Zhi Yi. 22, is always a tricky opponent. But Sindhu, as it is always while on the cusp of a major tournament, was near her A game. 

Sindhu read the game perfectly. Her backline judgments were on the money. The past few months we had seen Sindhu misjudge flights, and leave on-the-edge shots. She even had issues with Hawk-Eye judgements. All that was a thing of the past in Singapore. She was spot on with her referrals through the week, and was very aware of shuttle flight. She had even customised some of her plays. Her crosscourt game was curated and used to neutralise the natural drift of the AC at the Singapore venue . 

It was also heartening to see Sindhu, a power hitter, play the soft shots in the final – angled drops from mid-court and pinpoint net exchanges. So, it is not just the Singapore title, but also the way she went about winning it, that inspires confidence about what to expect from her in Birmingham. Nothing but gold, she seems to believe now. Nothing but gold, it is likely to be…

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