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Old foe, new record: PV Sindhu's ignominious exit from BWF World Championships

PV Sindhu is returning from the BWF World Championships without having won a single game for the first time in her career.

Old foe, new record: PV Sindhus ignominious exit from BWF World Championships

Nozomi Okuhara and PV Sindhu at the end of their 2023 BWF World Championships match (Badminton Photo)


The Bridge Desk

Updated: 23 Aug 2023 11:17 AM GMT

PV Sindhu's straight-games loss to Nozomi Okuhara in the BWF World Championships on Tuesday will be hurting her for more reasons than one.

Up 9-0 in the second game at one point, Sindhu will wonder how she slipped to a 14-21, 14-21 defeat. Eliminated from the tournament in the Round of 32, Sindhu will wonder why her 'big match mentality' could not come to the rescue. And having lost to old but out-of-touch foe Nozomi Okuhara, Sindhu will wonder if she needs to take some tips from the Japanese on how to recover from a prolonged form slump.

The BWF Worlds were always supposed to be the big stage which would help Sindhu shake the rust of the last few months, but it was not to be. Instead, she is returning without having won a single game in this tournament for the first time since making her debut as an 18-year-old back in 2013.

With five medals, Sindhu is the best Indian player in the history of the BWF World Championships. She was the first woman to win a singles medal on her debut as a 18-year-old in the 2013 edition. In 2019, she became the first and so far only Indian to win a gold medal at the Worlds, and effectively be crowned world champion. Overall, she has 2 bronze, 2 silver and 1 gold medal.

Sindhu made a breakthrough on debut in 2013, when she beat defending champion Wang Yihan and Wang Shixian of China on her way to the semifinals, where she lost to Ratchanok Intanon. With this, she became India's second medallist in the singles events at the World Championships since Prakash Padukone's bronze medal in 1983.

In 2014, she became the first Indian to win back-to-back medals.

Sindhu vs Okuhara at World Championships

In 2017, Sindhu won India's first individual silver at this event after losing a mammoth 110-minute final to Nozomi Okuhara 19โ€“21, 22โ€“20, 20โ€“22. This remains the second longest women's singles match in the history of badminton.

In 2019, when Sindhu finally won the elusive gold medal and secured a fifth World Championship medal, the joint-most in the history of women's singles badminton, it was again Okuhara on the other side of the net as the Indian won 21-7, 21-7.

Okuhara, 28, the same age as Sindhu, has been off the circuit for the last few years owing to a few long-term injuries. She had won only 2 matches this year before this week.

Her triumph over Sindhu is a significant step for the former world number 1 to regain her former glory. As for Sindhu, this loss is proof that her lack of results since the Commonwealth Games last year is not a blip that will be solved by a change of occasion, it is a far graver problem.

Sindhu's history at BWF World Championships

BWF World Championships 2013 - Bronze, Lost to Intanon in SF

BWF World Championships 2014 - Bronze, Lost to Marin in SF

BWF World Championships 2015 - Lost in QF to Sung Ji-hyun

BWF World Championships 2017 - Silver, Lost to Okuhara in Final

BWF World Championships 2018 - Silver, Lost to Marin in Final

BWF World Championships 2019 - Gold, Beat Okuhara in Final

BWF World Championships 2021 - Lost in QF to Tai Tzu

BWF World Championships 2022 - Withdrawn

BWF World Championships 2023 - Bye in R64; Loss to Okuhara in R32

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