PV Sindhu was understandably upset after her second-round exit at the All England Open Badminton Championships. Having medalled at all majors—Olympics, World Championships, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, Uber Cup—this was the last piece of jigsaw missing from her trophy cabinet. But it wasn’t to be.
But on getting to Basel, the city where she became world champion in 2019, the Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist picked herself to triumph at the Swiss Open on Sunday.
HT caught up with the twice Olympic medallist and world No. 7 to discuss her disappointment in Birmingham, her victory at Swiss Open and what lies ahead this year. Excerpts:
Three consecutive finals in Basel. What is it about the city that brings out the best in you?
I don’t know but it is one lucky place for me. I have played three finals in the Swiss city now. That is the only thing I guess. But I also like Switzerland (laughs).
How is it to start the year with two titles—one at home (Syed Modi India International), one away (Swiss Open)?
I feel really happy. These titles give me a lot of confidence to go much further, work harder and achieve a lot more. I started the year with a title, now I have won again, so hope to get many more.
Syed Modi in January was your first title in 29 months since you became world champion. Did it feel like the monkey was off your back?
I would not say that. I don’t think like that. What is important is to understand whether you are playing well or not, whether you are giving (of) your best, your 100 per cent or not. That way, the Olympics also comes in between that period where I did well and got bronze. It wasn’t easy. Olympics is definitely the biggest (event) for me. And I have played well in tournaments after the world championships but lost close matches. For me, it is important I do well, winning and losing is secondary.
How tough was it to come back after second round exits at both the German Open and All England Open?
It was definitely hard. It was sad that I lost (early) in German Open and All England but I had to bounce back as soon as possible, not think about what had happened but focus about what needs to be done. I think that’s what I changed in me. I have been working harder and learning from my mistakes. Getting that Swiss Open victory was very important after the two losses in German Open and All England.
What have you done differently?
Well, we definitely strategise, practice and plan accordingly because it is important to know what you are doing and what needs to be done. On court, we have been working on our strokes and off court on physical fitness. So nothing different but yeah, we have learnt a lot more, we have been improvising strokes.
How will these titles help in building momentum in a very important year?
These wins give me a lot of confidence. It is a big year having the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and the world championships so really looking forward to all of them. I would want to get a medal at these tournaments. Before that too we have a couple of tournaments coming up so we have to be mentally and physically fit and remain injury free.
You have struggled a bit against left-handers. Is it tougher to play southpaws like Carolina Marin, Sayaka Takahashi or Supanida Katethong?
Every player is very different. Left-handers, right-handers; every individual has a different kind of strokeplay and skill. So, I have to not use the same strategy with everyone and improvise on techniques and skills of every player.
Which are the next tournaments you are going to play?
Right now Korea Open (April 5-10) so really looking forward to it because we are travelling in a day. Couple of weeks later we have the Uber Cup (May 8-15) and the Thailand Open (May 17-22). These are the immediate tournaments I will be playing.
We are finally having tournaments regularly. How is it getting back into rhythm after playing intermittently?
It is really nice that we are getting back to normal but we still need to be careful. While travelling we have these (Covid) tests, after landing we have to take another test. But it is great to play these tournaments again. Really thankful to all the organisers, tournament committee members wherever we travel, they have been taking care of everything. I am really happy that we are back on court again.