PV Sindhu revelling in pressure ahead of Dubai Super Series Finals

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Dubai, December 1: Three days before the start of the BWF Super Series Finals, India’s PV Sindhu and Tai Tzu Ying took time out to shoot promotional videos for the Premier Badminton League. The chock-o-block badminton calendar means players have to eke out time for off the field commitments while staying focused on an upcoming tournament

A couple of retakes and Chennai Smashers’ Sindhu was done for the day, while Tai Tzu, who will turn out for Ahmedabad Smash Masters, took longer to shed her stage fright in front of the camera The 23-year-old from Chinese Taipei took questions about the year in which she won five Super Series titles, but most of the answers didn’t shed any new light other than what is known about the deceptively quick World No.1 The translator too heaved a sigh of relief and smiled when the questions stopped.

On the courts though it is Tai Tzu who has been asking all the questions. She’s also been a thorn in the flesh for Sindhu, who has lost to her on three occasions this year, including in the quarterfinals of the All England Championships. The reigning World Champion Nozomi Okuhara and Carolina Marin are missing the Super Series Finals because of injury, but Sindhu knows the presence of Tai Tzu won’t make her quest for India’s maiden Super Series Finals title any easier

Different style

“Tai Tzu has given me a tough time, she has very deceptive strokes. Recently also in Hong Kong it was 18-18 but those two three points made the difference. But I must say that with every player the style is different. Ratchanok (Intanon) and Okuhara are different and it is not easy to play against the top players because if you miss one percent here and there and it makes a difference when you are playing against the best, like a World No.1,” Sindhu said

Since her Olympic silver medal and the epic matches against Okuhara in the World Championship final and the Korea Open, Sindhu knows that there is expectations of her reaching the summit clash in every tournament she plays. She lost in the semi-finals of the previous edition of the Super Series Finals but believes she can go a step further this time

“The pressure is always there and after the Olympics the responsibilities are always high. But at the same time, I must say I have grown in confidence (since the Rio Games) and I believe I can do much better. See I wanted to win Super Series events after the Olympics and I have done. Dubai, of course, is different because the top-eight players are going to play. But I am confident I can do well here.

Regaining confidence

Looking back at 2017, Sindhu believes that the 22-20, 11-21, 21-18 win over Okuhara at the Korean Open was important because it helped her regain a lot of confidence after the loss at the World Championships in the hour and 49-minute thriller. Getting back at the Japanese was a shot in the arm, Sindhu says “Everybody was talking about the World Championships (loss) and I felt a bit bad but I thought to myself that it was probably not my day. After that, we had the Korean Open almost immediately and I knew it was going to be a long match and I was prepared. Winning the Korean Open was very important because it was against the same opponent. It gave me a lot of confidence.

If Sindhu wins the Super Series Finals, it will be the balm for the festering wound of losing two major finals — Olympics and World Championships

“There is always this expectation that Sindhu must win. Let’s see how I do,” Sindhu says with a smile.

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