Analysing PV Sindhu's road to a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics
2016 Rio Olympics silver medallist PV Sindhu has her path to gold fraught with hurdles at the Tokyo Olympics - can she overcome them?
What once seemed like a distant dream is finally a thing of tangible reality as World No. 7 shuttler PV Sindhu will be heading to the Tokyo Olympics, eager to win a second Olympic medal and hopefully, upgrade her Rio silver to a Tokyo gold.
Recently, the badminton draw for the Tokyo Olympics was released at the National Badminton Centre in England and the fates of the Tokyo-bound shuttlers were disclosed. The Indian contingent for badminton will feature 2019 World Champion PV Sindhu, 2019 World Championships bronze medallist B.Sai Praneeth and 2018 Commonwealth Games silver medallist duo of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty.
Let's take a look at the projected path of PV Sindhu as the 26-year-old will open her campaign for a second Olympic medal and a rare gold medal feat at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.
PV Sindhu's dash to gold
Placed in Group J, PV Sindhu has been handed an easy draw for the group stages and won't be having to face a lot of hiccups to make it to the knockout stages of the tournament. Seeded sixth at the Tokyo Olympics, Sindhu will have to go past Hong Kong's Cheung Ngan Yi and Israel's Ksenia Polikarpova in the group stage matches.
-  PV Sindhu vs  Cheung Ngan Yi [Group Stage]
|Cheung Ngan Yi||0|
As the World No. 34 Cheung Ngan Yi can slightly trouble the lanky Hyderabadi but she does not need to stress a lot this early in the tournament as she leads their head to head comfortably at 5-0.
-  PV Sindhu vs  Ksenia Polikarpova [Group Stage]
Israel's Ksenia Polikarpova is the World No. 58 currently and has only locked horns with PV Sindhu twice in her career. Their last meeting came in 2015 at the China Open where Sindhu handed her a straight games defeat. Polikarpova hasn't managed to ruffle Sindhu in any of their encounters and it's a 2-0 lead the World No. 7 holds.
-  PV Sindhu vs  Mia Blichfeldt [Round of 16 - Knockout]
The first real challenge that will come in PV Sindhu's way will stem from Denmark's Mia Blichfeldt who is the World No. 12. The 23-year-old Danish star has proved herself to be quite the force on the BWF circuit of late and has even handed Sindhu a defeat in 2021. Sindhu will need to be wary of the surprising skills of Blichfeldt, even though the Indian enjoys the head to head lead at 4-1.
-  PV Sindhu vs  Akane Yamaguchi [Quarter Final - Knockout]
Provided Sindhu crosses the hurdle posed by Blichfeldt, she will be meeting Japanese star Akane Yamaguchi, a most familiar opponent for the 2016 Rio silver medallist. Although Sindhu literally towers over this sprightly Japanese ace, it needs to be remembered that she will have the roaring support of the home crowd. Out of 18 meetings, Sindhu has had the last word on 11 occasions, with their most recent one coming at the All England Open 2021 where they played a thriller before Sindhu won, 16-21, 21-16, 21-19.
-  PV Sindhu vs  Tai Tzu-ying [Semi Final - Knockout]
It only gets trickier for PV Sindhu should he hope to upgrade her silver to a gold at the Tokyo Olympics as World No. 1 Tai Tzu-ying will be keenly waiting for her in the semi finals. Chinese Taipei's Tai Tzu-ying is perhaps the Queen of Deception and Sindhu shares an epic rivalry with her. The World No. 1 shuttler may have had it all in her career save for the most important titles - a World Championship crown and an Olympic honour. Denied a medal chance in Rio 2016 by Sindhu herself, Tai Tzu will be a fierce competitor, hungry to avenge her loss. Of course, Tai Tzu also boasts of a staggering head to head lead of 13-5 but Sindhu has managed to tame her at the biggest stages and she will be hoping to repeat that miracle in Tokyo.
-  PV Sindhu vs  Chen Yufei [Final - Gold Medal match]
If Sindhu manages to cross all the previous hurdles and emerges as a competitor in the gold medal match, she will stand on the brink of history. Awaiting her in the road to achieving it for real will be Chinese top seed Chen Yufei. Just 23 years of age, Yufei is not to be underestimated and has impressive skills with the racquet. Attacking by surprise and aided by nimble footwork, Sindhu needs to be extremely wary of the Chinese ace. However, to Sindhu's credit, the Indian leads their head to head at 6-4 and she can take comfort from that as she will head into the gold medal match-up.
Prediction: Although PV Sindhu has to size her way past a few difficult challenges set by Yamaguchi and Tai Tzu-ying, Sindhu's draw isn't exactly unfavourable. Nothing comes easy at the Olympics least of which is a medal - Sindhu is well aware of the fact. Training rigorously for the past few months, PV Sindhu will hope to bring her A-game to the table and actually stands a positive shot at winning a second Olympic medal, if not a gold, for sure.