PV Sindhu went 29 months without a title after becoming India’s first world champion in 2019. She finally broke the deadlock in January when she claimed the Syed Modi India International in Lucknow.
She backed it up with another feather in her cap two months later when she claimed the Swiss Open at her fortress in Basel where she also won the Worlds crown. The two-time Olympic medallist matched her best year on the tour (2017) when she won a third event—the Singapore Open—earlier this month which also happens to be her first Super 500 title.
Peaking right before the Commonwealth Games (CWG), the world No 7 will head to Birmingham with the aim of completing the set of medals at CWG after winning bronze in Glasgow 2014 and silver at Gold Coast 2018. Though the draws for individual events are yet to come out, the former world champion is likely to be the favourite and top seed in women’s singles where only one other Indian—Saina Nehwal—has succeeded in winning gold, that too twice in 2010 and 2018.
In an interview, the 27-year-old discusses her run of form in 2022, her chances of an elusive CWG gold and defending the mixed team title in Birmingham among other things. Excerpts:
29 months without a title and but now you’ve won three already this year.
I am really very happy. It’s been a good year so far but there’s a lot more to come. All these titles—Syed Modi India International, Swiss Open and Singapore Open—give me a lot of confidence to go on further.
Which of these titles was more special?
Each one has its own importance and specialty. Each one was special, not one in particular.
How do you think you’re playing right now? Do you think you’ve hit peak form?
I am playing well. It’s good that I won this title (Singapore Open this month). It gives me a lot of confidence. Sometimes you might not give your best, sometimes you may play brilliantly; it just depends on that particular day and which opponent you’re up against. Every day is a learning process. I am still learning, focusing, and trying to be patient and consistent.
How important was it to win these titles before the all-important World Championships?
It was important as it really boosts my confidence at an important time. But right now, we have the Commonwealth Games. That’s the immediate one on which I am focused. After that, I will focus on the World Championships. I hope to do well and give my best in both.
You’ve lost seven straight matches to Tai Tzu Ying, including two this year. How tough has it been against her? What do you think you need to do to beat her?
Those two matches (at Malaysia Open and Malaysia Masters this month) against Tai Tzu were really, really tough. It is just that in the third game, in a few points, I was in a bit of a hurry. I should have been a bit more patient, is what I felt. Apart from that, there’s not much to change, which is what I feel. Of course, she is a very tricky player and I have to be consistent against her. But again, it just depends on that particular day. Overall, who plays the best on that day wins is what I feel as strategy-wise we’ve been on it.
India topped the badminton medals tally at Gold Coast 2018, also winning the mixed team gold for the first time. Can India stay ahead?
We won in 2018 and hope to do so this time too. Each and every match in every category, be it singles or doubles, the performances of the individuals will be important. It is not going to be easy but as a team we will try and give our best.
The team event has gained sudden importance in badminton after the Thomas Cup triumph. What do you do to feel like a team, especially in an individual sport?
Team events always have a different environment altogether. Of course, the individual will have to play on their own but we have to support each other. As a team, we have to play together, as a unit, and as individuals, we have to give our best.
India are in Group 1 with Australia, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Your thoughts on the draw?
It is a good draw. What’s important is that we put in our 100 percent in every match whether we face Australia, Sri Lanka or Pakistan.
Bronze in 2014, silver in 2018. Gold in 2022? What do you think of the competition in women’s singles?
Hoping for the gold. It is not going to be easy because there are some good women’s singles players from Canada, Malaysia and Singapore. Of course, Kirsty (Gilmour) from Scotland too will be there. It is going to be tough. Every match counts as everybody will give their best. You can’t expect easy matches. What is important is that I give my best from the first match and keep on performing at that level irrespective of the opponent and round.