Two-time Olympic medallist P.V. Sindhu’s lack of consistency after coming back from an injury should not be a cause of “concern”, feels chief national badminton coach Pullela Gopichand.
Sindhu suffered yet another first round exit on Tuesday when she lost to world number 1 Akane Yamaguchi in the Singapore Open.
“She’s very young in saying that she’s just 26-27. It’s a good age, there is no reason for concern,” Gopichand told PTI in a virtual interaction.
A silver medallist at the 2016 Rio Olympics and bronze winner in the Tokyo Games, Sindhu suffered an ankle injury in August last year to slip out of top-10 in the BWF women’s singles rankings. She remained out of action for four months because of that injury.
Sindhu’s final and semi-final finish at Madrid Spain Masters and Malaysia Masters respectively were her best results this season. She reached a low with a first round exit at the Thailand Open when she lost to Cananda’s Michell Li.
But Gopichand, a former All England champion who guided Sindhu since she was 10 till she became an Olympic medallist, firmly believed she would bounce back stronger.
“She has come out on top in the six-eight months. She is starting to play well. I do expect her to play well in future. She is definitely one of India’s bets for the future,” Gopichand said.
Terming it a mixed season for Sindhu, Gopichand said: “It’s the beginning of the season and beginning of Olympic qualification. The results have been mixed so far.
“We have a lot of pressure on players to perform. We have to just back them up and hope that they are playing the big tournaments.” The high point of the season for Indian badminton was HS Prannoy’s title win at the Malaysia Masters last month, the 30-year-old’s first men’s singles triumph since 2017 US Open.
“From our perspective in general, Prannoy winning in Malaysia was a good one that’s something I’m really happy about. It’s the beginning of the season, it’s early.
“We have not done well at the Sudirman Cup, it was kind of a negative note. Lakshya Sen did well to get to the semifinals in Thailand, and I do believe that the next few weeks will be very critical and we have big tournaments coming up,” said the 49-year-old Gopichand.
The top shuttlers of the country are currently training with personal coaches. Sindhu is training with Vidhi Chuadhary, while the struggling Kidambi Srikkanth has roped in Wiempie Mahardi of Indonesia with an eye on Paris Olympics next year.
“In general, the rigours of having to play back-to-back, players have started to feel that they need personal coaches,” said Gopichand.
“If one has won then everybody starts to believe that they do need one. This is something that has been happening.
“In the Olympic year, it’s everybody’s need to have that personal attention. I think it’s a trend that has started, many also follow it in other sports. I’m okay with that.”
Gopichand will now be seen promoting padel sport as an advisor. The racket sport combines tennis and squash and is comparatively new to India. It is nicknamed ‘Tennis with Walls’ and ‘Squash in the Sun’.
“I first saw the sport in Dubai and found it very energetic, lots of fun, and very interactive.
“We at the Academy have a running track and in between the track we have some space and thought padel will be a right fit for it,” he said.
The badminton ace feels the sport has the potential to become popular in India.
“I do believe as a sport some of the things which are important are the basic level. I think it’s easy to pick up but tough to master.
“It’s a sport in which everybody can try their hands and that’s what makes the sport with a very low entry barrier. Everybody has the possibility of playing the sport,” he added.
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