Pusarla Venkata Sindhu made her way into the World Badminton Championships that started on 21 August in Glasgow as a firm favourite. Having won the bronze medal in 2013 and 2014, Sindhu was clear on her aim at the World Championships — changing the colour of the medal.
Except for a brief hiccup in the pre-quarters, the tournament had seen a Sindhu spectacle in every round of the tournament.
Here's a look at the Olympic silver medallist's impressive run in the World Championships and an eventual runner-up finish:
The 22-year-old World No 4 drew a bye in the first round and entered the tournament with an extra day off than the other shuttlers, but also with comparatively lesser match practice.
Sindhu faced South Korea's Kim Hyo Min who had just brushed away Egyptian Hadia Hosny 21-2, 21-4. Sindhu led 3-1 head-to-head and had lost her previous encounter with the South Korean in the 2016 Australia Open Super Series. However, nothing mattered on day two of the tournament and it was the trailer of the Sindhu spectacle that was to become the talking point of the event.
Sindhu won the match 21-16, 21-14 and dictated the flow of play from the start to end. Though Kim did make quite a few errors from the baseline, the Indian shuttler's ability to take control of her strokes from the back court and play long rallies held her in good stead.
This was the round where Sindhu was tested to her limits in a gruelling three game match against Cheung Ngan Yi of Hong Kong. Going into the match, Sindhu held a 3-0 advantage. However, Cheung clearly had a different plan and wanted to change that head-to-head record.
Sindhu had a sluggish start to the match which allowed Cheung to capitalise on the Indian's mistakes to win the first game 21-19. But, the Hyderabadi girl pounced back right into the game and even though she gave away three match points, she won the game 23-21 and pushed the match into the decider.
At the end of 86 minutes, it was the Indian shuttler who let out a guttural cry of celebration as she smashed her way into the quarter-final of the women's singles. Sindhu's attacking game in the decider didn't reveal any nervousness to the fans watching all over the world as she won the third game 21-17.
In the quarter-final, Sindhu was up against Sun Yu of China. This was to be her highest ranked opponent in the World Championships and the only player against whom she trailed in head-to-head results. Sindhu trailed 3-4 and had lost in straight games in their previous encounter at the World Super Series finals.
This time, it was Sindhu's turn to return the favour, though, as she sailed past Sun in straight games to go into the semi-final and ensure her third medal at the World Championships. The match was unexpectedly lopsided as Sindhu decimated Sun 21-14, 21-9 in just 39 minutes.
Sindhu's semi-final encounter was against the World Junior Badminton champion, China's Chen Yu Fei. The head-to-head scores were level at 1-1, but it was Chen who entered the match with a psychological advantage of having beaten the Indian in their Malaysian Masters encounter a couple of months earlier.
But, if there was any pressure on Sindhu to deliver in the semi-final, there was none to be seen as the Indian finished the match in under 50 minutes. The final scoreline read 21-13, 21-10 and it was a clear indication of the kind of superiority the Indian ace exhibited in the semi-final of one of the grandest stages of the tournament.
This final will for sure go down in history as one of the greatest badminton matches. A 110-minute encounter saw fortunes shifting from one player to the other, but in the end it was Nozomi Okuhara who became the first woman from Japan to win a gold medal at the World Championships since the inaugural championships. Sindhu entered the final with the head-to-head matches level at 3-3. The World No 4 Indian had won the previous two encounters including a match in the Rio Olympics.
On Sunday, in Glasgow, it was Nozomi Okuhara who won the first game 21-19, but saw Sindhu prevailing in a marathon second game that ended in a 73-shot-rally. Both the players were exhausted in the decider and played out of their skins fighting for every single point, keeping their eyes on the prize that waited at the end.
Sindhu carried the hopes of a billion on her strong shoulders. Though she had a minor misstep on the final frontier, Sindhu has made the entire country proud with her amazing run that culminated in her maiden silver medal at the World Championships.
A magical Sindhu lived up to her promise of converting the colour of her medal in 2017.
The Indian ace with a Midas touch did deliver on her promise.
Published Date: Aug 28, 2017 12:20 am | Updated Date: Aug 28, 2017 12:24 am