Sindhu's form could tilt the scales

Having increasingly raised the expectations of a nation desperate for an Olympic gold, P. V. Sindhu will challenge two-time World champion and favourite Carolina Marin in Friday’s women singles final.

pv sindhu

Sindhu has already beaten three top 10 ranked players on her road to the final.   -  AFP

Having increasingly raised the expectations of a nation desperate for an Olympic gold, P. V. Sindhu will challenge two-time World Champion and favourite, Carolina Marin, in Friday’s women's singles final.

None gave the ninth seeded Indian a chance to reach this far, but the lanky Hyderabadi turned the form-book upside down. Having ousted three top 10 players on her way to the gold medal clash, Sindhu is hardly going to be consoled by hanging on to an assured silver.

Though she has a 3-4 head-to-head score against the left-handed Spaniard, Sindhu’s resurgent form gives hopes of a triumph of an underdog.

> READ: P. V. Sindhu v Carolina Marin: Head-to-Head analysis

Sindhu, ranked 10th in the world, looks far more complete player these days. Her preparedness for the Games looks sharp. In spite of her tall frame, Sindhu has moved well on the court, retrieved brilliantly from the forecourt and unleashed some powerful smashes that were not exactly part of her repertoire till recently.

Her defence was always considered a strong point, but in the matches seen in Rio, the 21-year-old revealed her new-found hunger and consistency with her attacking strokes.

Whether it was Hong Kong-born Michelle Li in a grudge-battle in the league phase, the tricky Chinese Taipei girl, Tai Tzu Ying, in the round of 16, World No. 2 Wang Yihan in the quarterfinals or the Japanese threat Nozomi Okuhara in the semifinals, Sindhu’s ruthless displays showed her preparations for these players with different styles.

> READ: Sindhu: I am very focused and hope for the best

Against Carolina, Sindhu’s biggest challenge will be to negate the natural advantage enjoyed by a left-hander. As seen in most individual disciplines, left-handers face more right-handers and thus gain on the familiarity count.

Secondly, Carolina’s deception from the backcourt, especially when executing the strokes from the forehand, is the one Sindhu will have to be prepared for. Most players in the world find themselves wrong-footed by the ability of the Spaniard to execute an array of strokes on a shuttle tossed up on her forehand.

So far, Sindhu looks good in controlling the net, but Carolina has proved that she is second to none when responding the dribbles and drops. Carolina’s flick across the net is a handy surprise weapon that Sindhu should be ready for. Both players look well prepared for long rallies and possess good finishing strokes.

In all, it could well come down to the mental strength of these players on the big stage. Expect a tension-ridden battle. After all, at stake, is the Olympic gold for the first time finalists.