Two wins away from a badminton world championships gold, PV Sindhu seems to be emerging a new player to get past her biggest adversaries. For much of Friday's stunning win against Tai Tzu Ying, Sindhu looked more in control of her mind and vision in outlasting Tai Tzu, one of the shrewdest tactician of modern badminton.
Sindhu's 12-21, 23-21, 21-19 victory in Basel, Roger Federer's birthplace in Switzerland, saw a metamorphosed Sindhu -- a beauty near the net and a beast from the far court. The heady combination took seed No. 2 Tai Tzu by surprise as Sindhu showed focus and determination to fight for every point. (BADMINTON NEWS)
Since losing the gold medal match against Carolina Marin in Rio Olympics 2016, PV Sindhu has struggled to find answers. For all her potential, the 25-year-old has not won anything significant this year.
With the Japanese players emerging as a force and hunting down opponents in packs, it's been so near but yet so far for the lanky Hyderabad lass. But a patient South Korean is working overtime to bring the best out of Sindhu ahead of next year's Tokyo Olympics.
Kim Ji Hyun is an experienced badminton coach. However, an internet search throws up a Korean pop singer and actress by the same name. But this Kim Ji Hyun has been music to PV Sindhu's life.
Kim is a gold medallist in the 1994 Hiroshima Asian Games and won the world junior girl's title in Jakarta in 1989. She took part in two Olympics in 1996 and 2000 and retired in 2001. A lot of her success came in team tournaments like the Uber and Sudirman Cups.
Interestingly, Kim is part of the electro-mechanics team of a multinational electronics company. No wonder she stresses on the finer points of the game and the little tricks that foxes opponents.
Clever net play that involves the wrist and the policy of maximum damage with minimum stress -- the very basic of a surgical strike -- are efficiencies she reinforced in Sindhu's game. Additional hours with specific focus are clearly helping the remodelling of Sindhu.
“The way she plays, I feel it’s not smart enough. I mean, at the top level, you have to be smart. It has to be a combination, like your technique, and hitting and mentality. There are so many skills she has to work on, especially net skills and deception. Step by step. We’re working on skills, and changing tactics, as you can’t use the same tactics over and over again," Kim, who started working with Sindhu earlier this year, told the world badminton website.
No more in direct control of Pullela Gopichand, Sindhu is now more in control of Kim Ji Hyun. But Gopichand remains in the scheme of things and any success that Sindhu wins in the world must be linked to Gopichand's contribution in Sindhu's career.
"She (Sindhu) is still in the top 5 of the world, beaten all the top players like Nozomi Okuhara, Chen Yufei convincingly. Yes, she has lost to Akane Yamaguchi twice and there are areas to improve, but there is no reason not to be positive. We are working on these and by the time of the Olympics, she will get better," Gopichand told Outlook in a recent interview.
The signs are encouraging.