Glasgow: P V Sindhu’s last outing at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow wasn’t really a memorable one. The 22-year-old came to Scotland in the 2014 Commonwealth Games as a run-away favourite in the absence of defending champion Saina Nehwal but suffered two agonising losses against Canada’s Mitchell Li in the team event and then the individual semi-finals.
A lot has changed since then with Sindhu going on to win two Superseries titles, an Olympic silver and is currently ranked fifth in the world. But that also means that the lanky Indian shuttler once again returns to the Emirates Arena as one of the favourites to clinch her third World Championship medal. And probably her two bronze medals she bagged in 2013 and 14.
“It’s been two months after Australia and I have had good preparations for the World Championship. I am definitely looking for a medal here and a better one than bronze. I also want to change the colour and I will try my best for that,” she said.
Having received a bye in the first round, Sindhu is likely to face world number 42 Kim Hyo Min Korwa in the second round, which can be a potential banana skin for the Indian before she ventures into bigger battles.
But the Sindhu of 2017 is far more confident than the one who turned up for the 2014 Commonwealth Games and insists that the Rio Olympic medal has changed her approach to the game completely.
“I think I have got much better with my physical and mental preparation. I am lot more confident and that helps me when under pressure,” said the 22-year-old. Sindhu would at times struggle to beat players she was expected to win easily against while punching above her weight while playing as underdog.
That is how Sindhu got her first world championship medal in 2013, beating two top Chinese players in the pre-quarterfinals and quarterfinals before losing to eventual champion Ratchanok Intanon in the semi-finals. The story repeated itself a year later in Denmark when she lost to Spaniard Carolina Marin in the last four stage after packing off second seed Shixian Wang in the quarters.
“When I won my first world championship bronze nobody really knew me. It was a great feeling to beat Wang Yihan and Wang Shixian in back-to-back matches to win the bronze medal,” she said, adding she was aware of the added pressure on her this time around.
“After winning an Olympic silver, it is obvious that there will be pressure to win a medal here but now I have got used to it. I have prepared well and I am feeling good about myself,” she added.
Marin prepared for hat-trick charge
Apart from Sindhu, the other player under the limelight would be world and Olympic champion Carolina Marin, who hasn’t been able to recreate the form that made her look near invincible in the three years before Rio Games.
The Spaniard suffered an injury soon after the Games and hasn’t really found her mojo. But the 24-year-old sounded an ominous warning to her opponents saying she was feeling better than even when she played in Rio after putting in months of hard work.
Though, Marin refused to discuss the problem areas she identified in the last few months in her game she insisted that she has worked a lot on her approach since her loss in Singapore Superseries.
“In the last two months I have worked on various aspects of the game and I think I am ready to fight for gold,” she told reporters. “I am not coming here with a mind-set of defending my gold medal but to win another gold medal and that I think is the difference for me.”
With Sindhu and Marin in different halves of the draw and world number one Tai Tzu Ying opting out of the championship to play in the World University Games back home, a repeat of the Rio final can’t be ruled out.
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