Tasting success

India’s P.V. Sindhu (right) and Singapore’s Juan Gu at the awards ceremony.-AP India’s P.V. Sindhu (right) and Singapore’s Juan Gu at the awards ceremony.

“Yes, this is a very important win for me and coming after such a long gap, I am really delighted,” says P. V. Sindhu after winning the Malaysian Open Grand Prix. V. V. Subrahmanyam has the details.

For Pusarla Venkata Sindhu, the long wait for a major title has finally ended. She won the 2013 Malaysia Open Grand Prix Gold with a 21-17, 17-21, 21-19 win over Juan Gu of Singapore on May 4. Her victory also served a timely reminder about her growing stature in women’s badminton. The last big title won by this 17-year-old gifted player from Hyderabad, trained by chief national coach Pullela Gopi Chand at his Academy in the city, was the Asian under-19 girls’ singles title in July 2012.

The Malaysian triumph was not a major surprise given the impressive run Sindhu has had in recent times. Daughter of former volleyball international and Arjuna Awardee P. V. Ramana, Sindhu had the great satisfaction of showing the door to Japan’s Yui Hashimoto 21-16, 21-16 to become the first Indian to reach the semifinals of the India Open recently. Interestingly, she defeated the player who had earlier knocked out World No. 2 Saina Nehwal.

Winning big matches was never out of Sindhu’s reach. Some of her biggest scalps have included reigning Olympic champion Li Xuerui, within days of the latter’s London Olympics gold victory. The other significant win was when Sindhu knocked out Asian Games champion Wang Shixian at the Continental championships.

“Yes, this is a very important win for me and coming after such a long gap, I am really delighted,” said a visibly delighted Sindhu after her Malaysian Open win.

By all means, it has been a remarkable journey for someone who was first spotted at a tournament organised by the Players Association at Fateh Maidan Indoor Stadium in Hyderabad. The fact that she was ranked outside 200 in 2010 and now she is World No. 13 is a fair indication of the rapid strides she has made.

“Somehow I was not able to clinch titles despite winning matches against big names. So, I was very determined to win this Malaysian Open. And the way I fought back after being 10-15 down in the decider was very satisfying,” Sindhu recalled. She is also pleased that she was able to maintain her consistency despite being on the court for almost three weeks without a break.

For his part, Gopi Chand stressed that it was always important to win big titles. “Once you get the taste of success at this level, your confidence goes up and you will be a different player,” he remarked.

Gopi feels that Sindhu is the best bet after Saina Nehwal in India. “Right from the start, she has the talent, willingness to put in that extra effort and very keen to keep improving. All characteristics which should take her a long way,” the national coach pointed out.