Smarten up, PV Sindhu!

Updated: Nov 13, 2019, 07:51 IST | Ronald Chettiar | Mumbai

India chief coach Pullela Gopichand attributes world champion shuttler's recent poor performances to opponents figuring her out and insists she must add variety to excel.

PV Sindhu
PV Sindhu

India's badminton star PV Sindhu is going through an alarming slump since winning the gold medal at the World Championships in Basel, Switzerland, this August, and chief coach Pullela Gopichand reckoned she needs to be a lot smarter in her play with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics nearing.

Sindhu, 24, beat Japan's Nozomi Okuhara in final of the World Championships to become the first Indian shuttler to win gold at the prestigious event. However, since then she has managed to reach just one quarter-final round (French Open) in the last six tournaments.

And Gopichand, 45, attributed this to the fact that her opponents have figured out her game too well. He felt that Rio 2016 silver medallist must add variety to her play to excel at the Tokyo Games.

Patience is the key

"At Rio, nobody cared about her. There was a joke doing the rounds that everybody prepared for Saina [Nehwal] but Sindhu came out of the syllabus. This time, she will be the main question from the textbook and people will be prepared for her, so she needs to be smarter," Gopichand said on the sidelines of the launch of Football Mania, an IDBI Federal Life Insurance initiative in association with KheloMore, at the Mumbai Cricket Association's Banda-Kurla Complex venue on Tuesday. The Dronacharya Awardee felt his ward should work on having an all-round game. "Sindhu needs to be more patient. She sometimes ends up making mistakes in the endgame. More importantly, she needs to learn to play all types of games," said Gopichand.

Physical aspect crucial

When asked if the pressure of being world champion is weighing Sindhu down, the former All England champion felt that it's more to do with the physical aspect of things rather than the mental side. "If you look at last year's result, Sindhu struggled after finishing runner-up at the World Championships. So more than the mental side, it's probably the physical side that has been an issue. Even the conditions have not favoured her. Playing with fast shuttlecocks and in drifting conditions has been a challenge for her," explained Gopichand.

Sindhu's world title was widely credited to the contributions made by then-assistant coach Kim Ji Hyun of South Korea, who quit in September citing personal reasons. So has her departure hurt Sindhu's progress? Gopichand nodded in agreement. "We need to have dedicated coaches with our top players. And there is no quick-fix solution especially in the year prior to the Olympics. There won't be people around the world capable enough waiting for a job a few months before the Olympics. So it's tough," he admitted.

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