Badminton

‘Not really. Actually, yes’: Sindhu admits Worlds match played on mind during Korea Open final

The 22-year-old insisted she doesn’t mind playing Nozomi Okuhara again in a final but would treat her as any other opponent.

Newly crowned Korea Superseries champion PV Sindhu admitted that the world championships final loss did flash in the background when Nozomi Okuhara began to close the gap in the third game of the summit clash on Sunday, but insisted that it also inspired her to stay focus and close out the match.

The 22-year-old had lost to the Japanese opponent in an epic one-hour-50-minute battle in Glasgow last month. The summit clash in Seoul on Sunday was billed as an opportunity for Sindhu to avenge that loss. On Sunday, she came back from a second-game wobble to win 22-20, 11-21, 21-18 in a match that lasted an hour and 23 minutes.

Though Sindhu insisted that she did not approach the final in that manner, she was conscious of the result in their last meeting and worked accordingly. “Not really. Actually, yes,” was how she responded to a query from reporters on whether the world championships final was playing on her mind.

“I had lost [that match] from [a] 19-17 [lead in the third game]. But I just didn’t keep that in my mind and even though there were long rallies [like that match], I was like... the next point was important for me and I played that way,” said the Rio Olympic silver medallist after bagging her third Superseries title.

Speaking about the Sunday’s final, Sindhu said it was a very close match and it was obvious for anyone to see similarities between the two encounters. “After the world championships, we were playing the [Korea Open] final again and the match was very close. After I won the first game, I lost the second and the third was very close.”

She added, “In second game, everything was going out and I just couldn’t control the shuttle. If I wanted to recover points also, it was a huge lead and I lost that game. In the third game, each and every point was important from both sides. Even though I was leading [midway], she came back. After 11-5, every point was a long rally and no one was really leaving the shuttle. It was almost like the world championships.”

Sindhu said that her focus on trying to control the shuttle in the third game helped her keep the Worlds match out of her mind. “I was just going with the rallies. I didn’t think [about] anything [else] because I had to control the shuttle a lot. While controlling the shuttle, nothing came into my mind.”

So would she prefer to face someone else rather than Okuhara in the final next time around? “Not really. Anybody is fine. I think this is the second time we are meeting in the final. Before, everybody used to say it was Carolina. But now they are saying maybe Okuhara in the final again. But we have to play one or the other player every time so we have to just see it that way,” she said.

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