PV Sindhu Low On Confidence, Not A Medal Favourite At Asian Games: Former India Coach

Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy director Vimal Kumar made the statement after observing the double Olympic medallist from close quarters during her week-long stint at the academy.

File image of PV Sindhu

The going has been tough for PV Sindhu this year. Her lacklustre form is evident with the back-to-back failures on the circuit this season. (More Sports News)

The former World No.2 has looked like a pale shadow of her usual domineering self upon return from a stress fracture injury in her left ankle that she suffered during the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

The injury led to a five-month layoff and the double Olympic medallist’s rhythm seems to be missing ever since.   

All of this has dented Sindhu's confidence and not much should be expected from the ace Indian shuttler at the Asian Games, says former India coach Vimal Kumar. 

Desperate to arrest the slide, the 28-year-old sought the help of the legendary Prakash Padukone and trained with him at the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy (PPBA) in Bengaluru last week.

"We have been sitting and observing her sessions. Prakash spoke to her and tried to motivate her. We have also interacted with her coach (Muhammad Hafiz Hashim)," Vimal, who is the director of the PPBA, told PTI.

"She is low on confidence right now and has some work to do. We shouldn't expect much from her at the Asian Games," he added.

The 2019 world champion has lost seven times in the first round of BWF tour events this year. 

A semifinal finish at the Canada Open and two quarterfinals — US Open Super 300 and Australian Open super 500 — are the only notable performances from her so far this season.

Plagued by a string of underwhelming performances, Sindhu had conceded that the quarterfinal loss at the US Open had "a significant emotional impact" on her. 

"This loss has left a significant emotional impact on me, especially considering the challenging and demanding year I've had. It's disheartening to experience a disappointing defeat after each successful tournament," she wrote on 'X' (formerly Twitter) in July.

After observing the shuttler from close quarters during her week-long stint in PPBA, Vimal  feels Sindhu needs to make a few technical changes in her game and is likely to take some time to regain her form.

"She is a big player and it is important to give her some time, it might take her a few months to regain her touch. There are a few technical aspects, where she can make some changes. She needs to take some initiatives in the technical aspect."

Ahead of the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, Sindhu has pulled out of the China Open Super 1000 and Hong Kong Open Super 500 to focus on the multi-sport event beginning September 23.

Her personal coach Malaysian Hafiz Hashim was also with her when she trained at PPBA last week.

"The last week has been a good change for her. She had a good experience of learning from Padukone. He was very kind to be there and watch her practice session," Sindhu's father PV Ramana, who had won a bronze medal as part of the Indian volleyball team in the 1986 Asian Games, said.

"They have been very supportive and have given her great encouragement. It is good to learn from different coaches, everyone has different views and ways. As a player, she might like to go again, each player has their own strategy."

For World No. 14 Sindhu, it is a crucial period in her career with the Olympic qualification period for the 2024 Games having already started from May 1.

In February, the player from Hyderabad parted ways with Korean coach Park Tae-Sang, who was instrumental in her winning the bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics.

Sindhu worked with SAI coach Vidhi Chaudhary for sometime before roping in Hafiz ahead of the Olympics.

(With PTI inputs)