Badminton World Championships: for PV Sindhu, the perfect opportunity to defend his crown


As bitter as those constant callbacks, of invisible ghost contenders and injured challengers missing from the competition for the World Championship crowns, PV Sindhu can be proud of what she achieved in Basel in 2019: a gold medal. . Staying in shape, arriving day after day, mowing down future Olympic champion Chen Yufei and former world champion Nozomi Okuhara with (three times out of four) incredulous scores of 21-7, is nothing short of domination. impetuous on a title. There is no asterisk, visible to the human eye, to this realization.

That’s why Sindhu’s title defense in Carolina Marin’s backyard in Huelva deserves the die-hard pugnacity often associated with the Spaniard. This will not let go of the stubbornness, the courage of a garrison and the courage of a fortress. Just with the other hand – the whiplash racket on the right, the pumping ball fist on the left. An air of sea threat as Sindhu rushes through his draw, a bugle call to his rivals daring them to wrest his crown from him and opponents sensing the looming fear. The imposing regent of special occasions on the lookout.

It doesn’t matter how careless it is in pressure, or the calculations of its relative shape. Sindhu puts her name in pencil for the end of tournaments from Saturday to Sunday, as she lands at the airport – this time in Seville.

Legacy of monsters to live up to

The greatest singles player in the history of the World Championship is Marin with 3 crowns. Four others, Chinese Xie Xingfang (2005 & 06), Ye Zhaoying (1995 & 97), Li Lingwei (1983 & 89) and Han Aiping (1985 & 87), have won the world title twice.

Sindhu is tied with Zhang Ning for most medals – five. But when the honor lists are read, it will be the gold medals, the titles at stake, the world conquests that will count. Bronzes and silvers are pale in comparison. At the European Championships, Olympics and World Championships, Carolina Marin has 9 gold medals. Argents and bronzes? Nothing.

At the highest level of international sport, titles are the currency. Sindhu was refused at the Olympics, and that would hurt. For a truly world-class Indian athlete – she’s majestically consistent in her progress to major event finals over the past five years – missing Tokyo, standing on the third step of the podium, couldn’t be easy. The World Championship draw gives Sindhu revenge against his nemesis in Tokyo: Tai Tzu Ying.

Great Wall of Chinese Taipei

Despite all his form and formidable history in the big tournaments, PV Sindhu is 26 years old and the wary eyes would not have missed the onslaught of young people and the recent landing of An Seyoung, the teenage storm in Bali. The Korean, who is in the other half of the Worlds in Huelva, has won three straight titles and looks invincible on the slow shuttle courts.

But long before the final, Sindhu has his own half of the draw to negotiate. What gets tricky for the Indian is the Thai Pornpawee Chochuwong in the front quarters, then potentially Tai Tzu Ying the next day in the quarters.

Chochuwong is not easily confused. She is not easily overshadowed – in stature or by Sindhu’s stiff game. She looks like she’s falling out, but has the same pace as Sindhu and a similar game. She can usually nurture ambitions in the semi-finals and make that intention a reality. Sindhu will therefore have to watch out for the pre-Tai Tzu retarder which will come into a blind turn.

Taiwanese Tai Tzu Ying hasn’t played since the Olympics. “We don’t know in what form Tai Tzu is heading for Spain. It could be rusty so we have to wait and watch, ”said national coach Pullela Gopichand. After being on Sindhu’s field at the 2016 Olympics and twice at the World Championships when the Indian thwarted Tai Tzu’s medal chances in the quarterfinals, he believes all Sindhu has to do is to bow her head and chip away at the restless Taiwanese. patience. And do not let yourself be overcome by emotion. The lull hiding the storm. Maximum disappointment.

Bringing Tai Tzu into a game, with audible aggression, never works well for his opponents, and neither does walking his web of tricks – in rhythm and punches.

The fact that the Taiwanese is vulnerable – despite his silver medal at the Tokyo Games – having never made it past the quarter-finals in 8 games at the Worlds, some courtesy of Sindhu, should give some hope. to the Indian. Although the back-to-back Chochuwong-Tai Tzu made it a tough draw for the Indian. It is suspected that she will need the restorative confidence of being a world champion, for the most part, during the inquisitions from Thursday to Friday.

China’s He Bingjiao would be next, with Akane Yamaguchi – An Seyoung battling in the other half.

Men are not lacking in motivation

It’s not just the seedings and the Indonesians concentrated in their half. For the four Indian men’s singles players the will to stand out is extremely high this time around, having been maintained for the past two years.

2019 medalist Sai Praneeth does well in training and, when confident about reaching the shuttles, can be a handful. There is the Dutchman Mark Caljouw in the first game which excluded him from the Olympics.

HS Prannoy, who are due to meet 8th seed NG Ka Long Angus, will have regained confidence thanks to their victory over Viktor Axelsen last month. There are a bunch of Top20s in his quarterback – Rasmus Gemke and Daren Liew, whom the Indian, if focused on his goals, can beat before Axelsen in the quarterfinals.

India’s biggest hope remains Kidambi Srikanth, who, after facing local player Pablo Abian, can meet delicate next-generation Chinese Li Shifeng. But it goes both ways: Srikanth’s style of play with flair and unpredictability isn’t always the easiest for the Chinese to face. A Chou Tien Chen higher up, however, are real dangerous waters in which to wade. Lakshya Sen has Kenta Nishimoto as his first challenge.

India’s top pair of doubles will need to play off their own skin to break through, given their indifferent form on approach.

Gopichand says the withdrawals may well be the Indians’ rare luck, but they will still have to come out and get the wins. Yet it opens the field by giving it a very different complexion. “The last world championship was very positive for India. With the field depleted, I see multiple chances that we will win a medal, ”he said.

The post-Olympic lull is not really over yet, although the Indians, led by PV Sindhu, seem ready to seize the opportunity that presents itself.

***

Whispers of withdrawal and symptoms of hope

While the World Badminton Federation gave no indication of holding a new draw after a slew of forfeits, the World Championship found itself facing an unbalanced men’s singles draw that puts the bottom half at a disadvantage. including Viktor Axelsen, Anders Antonsen and Malaysian Lee Zii Jia. .

First, the Indonesians withdrew, and then seeded Kento Momota failed to recover. That left the No. 1, 5 and 7 seeds out of the draw, which fades a bit for the top half.

The implications:

* The top half of the 32-place has just 5 seeds, while the bottom half has 8.

* Absent in the first half are Momota, Tokyo bronze medalist Anthony Ginting and Asian Games champion Jonatan Christie – all formidable names.

* This opens up the opportunity for someone like Lakshya Sen, who might need to beat 15th and 10th seeded Kenta Nishimoto and Wang Tzu Wei to advance to the semi-finals. On the other hand, a Viktor Axelsen drew end-of-year semi-finalist Loh Kean Yew in their opener, and will have to face ranked players 16, 8/11 and 3-Antonsen or 6-Lee Zii Jia in the semifinals.

* The best Chinese and Indians are all clustered in the lucky top half, with just Chou Tien Chen from Taiwan, a big name who can seem impregnable. The bottom half is stacked – loaded with Axelsens and Jias, but also bustling with the dangerous Top20 floats.

* With the dads not coming from Indonesia, an extremely obscure bottom quarter of the European men’s doubles pairs sees the Austrian and Norwegian pairs progressing doubly fast before the Danes Astrup-Rasmussen get down to it. The missing Minions are in the same half as Satwik-Chirag, but there is enough ammo in the Malaysian Ong Yes Sin-Teo Ee Yi to cause problems.



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