NEW DELHI: Listening to badminton players leads one to interesting subjects. Shuttle speed, the speed of courts, drift. These are important terms for players. Subtle changes in these can alter equations and for players aiming big at the highest level, it’s crucial to get used to such variables.
At the Yonex Sunrise India Open, almost every player has been heard discussing these points, sometimes in great detail. “The drift caused by the air-conditioner was an issue on centre court.
As always, these courts are really fast. This time, they seem faster. You need to be really quick to judge the speed of the shuttle,” said Saina Nehwal, after her loss to PV Sindhu in the quarterfinals on Friday.
Carolina Marin, Victor Axelsen and other top players have aired similar opinion about the centre court at Siri Fort sports complex. On Saturday, when Sindhu played her semifinal game against Sung Ji Hyun, the factors of drift and shuttle speed came into play.
It was tough for the players to control shots from the side where the drift was more. There were times when expecting the shuttle to land in, they saw it go out due to the drift. It was happening from one side only.
Asked if fast courts and drift will be an issue in the final, Sindhu said, “We come early to venues to get acquainted to different conditions. It takes some time to get used to. This is where awareness counts. I think Indians have played enough in Delhi to be able to control such factors.”
In a way, such conditions test a certain set of skills. According to India’s singles coach Mulyo Hondoyo, those with better control come out on top on such courts. He thinks every player should be ready for such eventualities.
“This is certainly one of the faster courts with a lot of drift. Players with stronger control over shots will have advantage. The key is to hit the shuttle hard, but in control. Having said that, these things don’t count in a final. It’s just about handling the pressure.”
In a repeat of last year’s Rio Olympics final, Sindhu will meet Spain’s Carolina Marin in the final on Sunday. The Hyderabadi beat South Korea’s Hyun 21-18, 14-21, 21-14 in 78 minutes. After the Olympic loss, Sindhu had beaten Marin in the World Superseries Finals. This will be their 10th international meeting.
“I know what it takes to beat her. We know each other’s game well, but I’ll have the crowd behind me,” Sindhu said of Sunday’s clash. World No 1 last year, Marin is ranked third now. Sindhu is No 5.