After another titanic tussle against Nozomi Okuhara to reach the semifinals of the All England Open badminton tournament in Birmingham on Friday, World Championship silver medallist PV Sindhu said that she had worked a lot on the mental aspect of recovering from lost points during gruelling encounters. She credited this for her fightback against Okuhara despite trailing 12-16 in the decider, to register a come-from-behind win.
Sindhu and Okuhara have a history of playing long encounters and the quarterfinal on Friday was no different. But unlike the World Championship final in August last year, which the Japanese won, the Indian managed to fight back from a late deficit to win 20-22, 21-18, 21-18 in an hour and 24 minutes.
“It was something like the world championship and Dubai (where she lost to Akane Yamaguchi). Not may be so much time, lesser than that but I think there were long rallies. Playing Okuhara isn’t easy as both of us know each others game very well but I am happy to pull it off today,” Sindhu said after the match.
Sindhu and Okuhara have now played each other 10 times with both winning five matches each. Out of the 10 encounters only two have ended in straight games.
Speaking about the third game, Sindhu said it was important for her to just hang on and not lose hope. “This time also I was down actually. After changing the court she was leading 12-16 like (Nitchanon) Jindapol yesterday and I thought I shouldn’t give up. I am happy that I fought back the way I did.”
The obvious question for Sindhu was what was the difference between the two close matches she lost in Glasgow and Dubai and the fourth seed said she was working on the mental side to recover well from a lost opportunity and that helped her in the third game.
“Physically and mentally when you lose these kind of matches, it actually hits you. But you just want to come back stronger and ensure that it does not happen again and again.
“Definitely yes (Working on my mental side of the game). The coach has been telling me that when you lose a point like when you just hit a tap out when you could have won a point but end up losing a point, you lose your confidence and get nervous. But over there you have to just tell yourself its over. I have been working on it and I think it is getting better,” said the 22-year-old, who will be playing in her first All England semifinal on Saturday where she will take on Akane Yamaguchi.
Even coach Pullela Gopichand, the last Indian to win the All England title, was happy with the way Sindhu came back in the decider. He said, “Overall very happy to see Sindhu pull off a very good win. They have had similar matches and hopefully she would hold on (physcially) for couple of more days.”
Okuhara admitted that she couldn’t execute her game plan well at crucial junctures and that cost her the match. “I couldn’t play to my ability. I couldn’t execute some shots the way I would have liked. But with my condition this was the best I could play,” said the 23-year-old who missed almost four months of competition due to fluid build up in her knee and returned to action only at the Indonesia Masters earlier this year.