HYDERABAD: Forty-two minutes. That was all an unseeded Sung Ji-hyun needed to end PV Sindhu’s campaign at last week’s Malaysia Open. The scoreline of 21-18, 21-7 spoke of the ease with which the South Korean won. It also sent tongues wagging that the 27-year-old could be the Indian’s newest kryptonite, as it was her third straight win over Sindhu.
After capping off 2018 with the World Tour Finals title, Sindhu has looked a bit off-colour in the new season, with a semifinal appearance at the India Open being her only notable performance. The Singapore Open (World Tour Super 500) commences on Tuesday. With both Sindhu and Sung in the fray again, there is another chance for the lanky Indian to set the record straight. More importantly, the Olympics qualification period begins on April 29.
Is Sindhu’s form a concern with the qualifiers lurking around the corner? Experts this newspaper spoke to do not think so. “You need to see the situation going ahead. The main focus is on qualifying for Olympics. Reading too much into these performances is not the way many athletes look at these competitions,” multiple national champion Aparna Popat said.
“There are other things to be considered. Top shuttlers need to play 12 tournaments in a calendar year. They have to pace themselves well through this hectic schedule. I don’t know how (Pullela) Gopichand and Sindhu look at it, but some athletes prefer performing at bigger events. A loss is a loss, it can dent confidence. But looking at the bigger picture, these things might not matter that much. Some players do not mind losing these small battles, and concentrate more on winning the war. Bigger tournaments like the World Championships need to be kept in mind,” Popat added.
Sindhu seems to be following what Popat said, as she has the tendency to peak at bigger tournaments. Her multiple medals at the Worlds, and the Olympic silver are testimony to that. Former national champion Trupti Murgunde feels Sindhu needs some confidence. “Sung has looked in better form of late. And Sindhu is not playing her best game. She needs to play with a lot more confidence,” Murgunde said.
Sikki, Ashwini miss deadline
Doubles specialist N Sikki Reddy said she and Ashwini Ponnappa got late in sending entries for the tournament. Hence, they would not be able to take part. “We send entries to Badminton Association of India (BAI), which then forwards it to BWF. All players have to send their names a week before the closing date. But we sent it at the last minute, just before the date,” Sikki said from Singapore. She will, however, take part in the mixed doubles competition with Pranaav Jerry Chopra. The shuttler said that Jerry sent the entry on time.