India’s chief national badminton coach Pullela Gopichand on Tuesday praised his protege PV Sindhu for winning the silver medal at the 2018 badminton world championships in Nanjing, China, on Sunday.
Sindhu won her second straight silver medal at the Worlds after losing to Olympic champion Carolina Marin 21-19, 21-10 in the final. Last year, Sindhu had lost to Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara in a marathon summit clash that lasted an hour and 50 minutes. The 23-year-old Indian has also lost in other major finals – the World Superseries Finals and Commonwealth Game – since then.
However, Gopichand said that people should not read too much into her defeats in finals. “It’s very easy to focus on the last match, forgetting about the great semi-final [against Akane Yamaguchi], quarter-final [against Okuhara] and pre-quarterfinal [against Sung Ji Hyun],” the 44-year-old told reporters in Hyderabad, as reported by The Times of India.
“She has put in a lot of good work and credit to her for fighting back in quarters and semis. The mental strength she showed in semis and quarters is what we should remember before bisecting the final as a standalone. That is what I’d want Sindhu to think, because it’s easy to forget the good work and focus on negatives,” he added.
However, Gopichand did admit that Sindhu should have won the first game against Marin after leading 14-9 at one stage. “The first 15 points of the match were different,” he said. “Sindhu dominated and was confident. There was a lapse, maybe for a minute. In a big match, little momentum shifts can turn the tide. Definitely, we need to learn our lessons, but we can’t forget the good work done in the match.”
Sindhu also said that the result of the match could have been different had she won that first game. “I need to take it positively, I am happy to win silver, but definitely need to improve on my mistakes,” she said.
Gopichand was pleased with India’s performance at the Worlds, despite winning one less medal than in Glasgow 2017 when Saina Nehwal had got the bronze to add to Sindhu’s silver. In Nanjing, Nehwal was defeated in the quarter-finals by Marin in straight games. However, four Indians reached the quarters, which pleased the national coach.
“The doubles players, including Ashwini Ponnappa, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty played well,” he said. “Saina Nehwal beating [former world No 1] Ratchanok [Intanon] was very good too. Against Saina, I thought Marin played exceptionally well. Srikanth and Prannoy should have played better.”
Sindhu and Co will now begin preparations for the Asian Games, which begin in Indonesia on August 18.