Over the last few months, celebrated Indian badminton player PV Sindhu has really struggled for form. The 24-year-old has suffered early eliminations in most tournaments, with her best performance being a quarterfinals finish at the 2019 French Open.
While many in the media have been critical of Sindhu’s form in the recent past, the Indian national coach Pullela Gopichand believes the hectic schedule since August could be the reason behind the Olympic silver medallist's downfall.
“Sindhu has had tough times in the last few matches, but I am sure she’ll bounce back. I think she’s had a tough schedule after the World Championships, doing intercontinental matches in China and Korea.”
“Then she went to Denmark, France and then she comes back to play China and Hong Kong again. I think it’s been a tough last two months for her,” revealed Gopichand in an interview to an Indian publication.
Nevertheless, the BWF World Tour Finals 2019 will be the right opportunity for the talismanic Indian shuttler to get back on the podium and finish her season on a high.
PV Sindhu’s hectic season
Since the World Championships, Sindhu has been involved in six tournaments, with the maximum duration of prolonged rest being a three-week period in the first half of September. With tournaments scheduled all across Asia, Europe and then Asia again, the Indian shuttler has also had to deal with constant travel and adjusting to different time zones in the past few months.
The Hyderabad-born shuttler has also played three-game matches on six of the 11 occasions post the World Championships, with most of those matches stretching beyond the hour mark. The longer hours at the courts coupled with a crammed schedule could have been a reason behind Sindhu’s recent dip in form.
Sindhu’s workload has been considerably higher than most of the other participants at the BWF World Tour Finals. Top-ranked Tai Tzu Ying, for instance, missed the recently concluded Hong Kong Open while Chinese shuttler Chen Yufei decided to skip the French Open which was held in October.
The 24-year-old didn’t have a lot of time off after the 2018-19 season ended as well, as she was busy plying her trade in the Premier Badminton League (PBL). Sindhu’s team Hyderabad Hunters made it till the semifinals in that nearly month-long tournament.
Also, apart from her days on the court, Sindhu has been busy with certain commercial commitments and felicitation events, travelling the length and breadth of India on her days off in the past few months, further adding to her packed schedule.
Apart from the hectic season, Sindhu has also had to deal with a coaching setback in the recent past, with Korean Kim Ji Hyun resigning from his position due to personal reasons.
Sindhu’s comeback on the horizon?
Despite her sagging form of late, the BWF World Tour Finals in the perfect opportunity for Sindhu to end her season of a good note. As India’s undisputed big-match player, Sindhu enjoys a commendable head-to-head record against her fellow participants at the World Tour Finals, and Indian fans would want the run to continue.
In the lead up to the World Tour Finals, Sindhu lost out against some of the fresher faces in badminton like An Se Young of South Korea or Pornpawee Chochuwong of Thailand. These players were new on the circuit and the Indian shuttler hadn’t faced them many times in her career.
That won’t be the case in Guangzhou, as Sindhu will be piped against opponents she has faced several times in her career. She will be better prepared to take on Tai Tzu Ying’s deceptive drop shots or Akane Yamaguchi’s deep court smashes.
PV Sindhu and big tournament pressure
“She (Sindhu) has consistently been winning medals at the World Championships and that is something phenomenal which talks about the consistency. Apart from these, if you add the Olympic medal, the Asian Games medal and the Commonwealth Games medal, I think you just know that she isn’t a flash in the pan. She has been a top player and is definitely one of those we can really trust,” coach P Gopichand had said in an interview with the Olympic Channel.
And a big match player she has been indeed, winning the BWF World Championships in August despite having a string of poor performances prior to that competition. Similar was the case last year at the BWF World Tour Finals of 2018, where she managed to win the title despite suffering early eliminations in the tournaments held before.
Sindhu’s best performance since bagging silver at the 2018 World Championships was reaching the quarterfinals of the Victor China Open and the French Open. She even suffered a first-round elimination at the 2018 Denmark Open in that interim. Nevertheless, the reigning Commonwealth Games gold medallist has managed to rock the apple cart at the World Tour Finals, winning three of her five matches in straight games.
Heading into the World Tour Finals, Sindhu just needs to take a leaf out of her own book to succeed once again and bury the ghosts of her recent past.