Having recently won a historic bronze medal at the World Championships in Guangzhou’s PV Sindhu entered the inaugural franchise-based Indian Badminton League on a high, having bagged USD 80,000 as Awadhe Warriors’ icon player.
However, defeats to Hyderabad Hotshots Saina Nehwal and then Banga Beats’ Carolina Marin seems to have temporarily taken away the dazzling smile that normally illuminates the teenage shuttler’s expressive face.
The 18-year-old Hyderabadi however, is not one to give up and promises a fightback. In an interview to MiD DAY, Sindhu spoke about the build up and after-effects of her Big Clash with Nehwal, the shocking defeat to Marin and how the IBL is a boon to the young, promising breed of Indian shuttlers.
The IBL is throwing up some tough matches for you. You first lost to Saina and now Marin (on Monday). Are you surprised with the turn of events since the World Championships?
I was in very good form when we reached Delhi after the World Championships, but then things went downhill. Against Saina, I had the upper hand in the first game, but then she forced me into defence. I could not cope and made lots of mistakes. Then, against Marin, I was just not in the game.
Did the Big Clash tag for the Saina match put pressure on you?
In a way yes, it did put a lot of pressure on me. The media expected a lot from both of us and I had to overcome nerves. I had the advantage in Game One and had some good leads, but Saina slowly showed how good she is. She suddenly switched to attack and began attacking from all angles. Her pace was good too. In the second game, she played very well and I was always retrieving. I practice at the (Gopichand) Academy sometimes against her and I always look up to her. She is a very helpful person.
What went wrong in the match against Marin?
Here again I was unfortunately unable to deliver the goods for my team. Caroline played a very intelligent game and ensured I did not get into rhythm. My smashes did not work as I was not getting behind the shuttle. She was good at the net too. I simply never got going… it happens sometimes.
How do you see IBL benefiting Indian badminton?
IBL will benefit the game in India greatly. The very fact that we are having so many top-class matches against some of the world’s top-ranked players, will give so much experience and confidence to all of us. The other day K Maneesha, who is just 15 years old was on court playing a mixed doubles match against former Olympic and world champion Markis Kiddo (Indonesia). That was a fantastic example of a youngster rubbing shoulders with a top player. Though she lost, Maneesha would have gained a great deal in confidence from this wonderful opportunity. She did not show signs of any nerves and played very well. There are so many other areas where IBL can help Indian
Have you managed to speak with national coach Pullela Gopichand (IBL governing council member) about your matches?
Gopi sir is always there to help me. He has always guided me. Whatever I am today is because of Gopi sir. I am always in touch with him.
Finally, how do you plan to approach the remainder of this tournament?
I am a tough person. I do not dwell too much on my defeats. I will bounce back. I am mentally very strong and I am sure this is just a phase. It will pass. There are many more matches to look forward to.
Sanjay Sharma is a former India player.