They say that every successful person has a fair share of difficulties that cause hiccups en route to their destination. The road is rarely straight and often there are diversions aplenty that tend to steer you away from your goal. For the 24-year-old Pusarla Venkata Sindhu, this experience has held true ever since she picked up the racket professionally sometime during the year of 2009.
The journey has not been easy and the glitters that came with the gold has often betrayed her side when she needed them the most. The newly crowned World Champion for the first time in her life, PV Sindhu seems to be struggling to regain her form with first and second-round exits in the recently concluded China Open and Korea Open, respectively.
If we are to traverse back the years and momentarily try and find the first flaming spark that glow-lit the firebrand player we now know PV Sindhu is, we will unanimously pause in 2015. Riding on her effervescent form from 2011 where she picked up 4 International Challenge and Series trophies in one whole year, Sindhu propelled ahead towards greater victories. True enough that she had been quietly collecting several Grand Prix titles ever since 2013 in Malaysia to another in Macau in the same year, which only served as markers for her impending excellence on the BWF Tour.
However, 2015 was a special year for the lanky Hyderabadi. With the passion and ambition of a new shuttler in the circuit, Sindhu chased down wild dreams and on more occasions than one she came dangerously close to seizing them. The 2015 edition of the Denmark Open proved to be the magical crucible for the birth of a revamped PV Sindhu. In what could be called a surreal tournament, the then 20-year-old feisty girl took down former World Number 1 players Tai Tzu-Ying (she is the current World Number 1 too), Wang Yihan, and Carolina Marin before making it to her first-ever Super Series Final final against Li Xuerui, the then-defending champion and a former World Number 1, too.
Looking back that could be highlighted as the turnaround moment for Sindhu in her career as she bellowed the trumpet of success with the massive wins she recorded in the span of a week in Denmark. The final was also intense with Li Xuerui really having to go the distance with the motivated Sindhu, especially in the first game.
In a matter of 21-19, 21-12 PV Sindhu went down fighting to the domineering Chinese ace. But all was not lost for the Hyderabadi as she used the confidence gained from this tournament and channelled it to win a third consecutive Macau Open Grand Prix.
There was no stopping PV Sindhu after that as she raced on to take over the world with her spectacular performances on the court. There would be dry spells often but like a phoenix rising out of the ashes, she would rise and claim laurels for herself. Sitting complacently now with 3 BWF Super Series titles and 6 BWF Grand Prix titles, aside from the countless medals collected over the years in various Challenge Cups-the cherry on the top came with the World Championship gold in Basel during the month of August.
The entire country stirred up to take notice of this gleaming World Champion and accolades began to be showered upon her as the pressure of expectations were now visibly doubled on her. For the silver medalist from the 2016 Rio Olympics, there was a rapid increase in attention post her World Championship win.
Often thought of as someone who always misses out on the gold by a whisker, PV Sindhu converted her 2017-2018 silver finishes in Glasgow and then Nanjing to a glittering gold in her hat-trick finale appearance at the World Championships. She has also displayed a fiery form in the 2018 Commonwealth and Asian Games, bagging silvers in both, solidifying her presence as an ace shuttler.
PV Sindhu along with Saina Nehwal can be considered plurally responsible for the current popularity of badminton in our country. However, the popularity always comes with pressure- the unceasing pressure to perform and bring home medals for the country. While PV Sindhu's career has been peppered with occasions of self-doubt and near-miss performances, she needs to find back that resolute and determined mentality that propelled her on to victory in Basel.
While a first-round exit in Korea Open and a second-round defeat in China Open showcase how the pressure of being a World Champion has slightly got to her, she needs to breathe in and charge into the Denmark Open. If there is any particular place that Sindhu can revamp her form, it has to be in the hallowed grounds of the Odense Sports Center which gave her the first big-ticket into a Super Series final way back in 2015.
As we look on with expectant eyes and a volley of hopes flock around the Hyderabadi girl, we only wish that she will rise like a phoenix again and make every tournament count as the reigning World Champion now.