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BWF World Championship 2019: Another chance for P V Sindhu to bag the elusive gold
No matter how Sindhu's form is over the course of a year, there's one tournament where she never disappoints - the World Championship.
The gala time of badminton - World Championships is a couple of days away and Indians are going with a renewed hope that the silver and bronze medals of previous years will be converted to gold this time. The 2019 Badminton World Championship will be held in Basel, Switzerland from 19th August till 25th August 2019.
Sindhu and her love for the World ChampionshipNo matter how Sindhu's form is over the course of a year, there's one tournament where she never disappoints - the World Championship. The love affair started back in 2013, when she won the bronze medal having come through a tough pool, which saw her taking down top Chinese seeds Wang Yihan, Wang Shixian before losing to the eventual title winner Ratchanok in the semi-finals. P V Sindhu clinched the bronze medal at the 2013 BWF World Championship (Source: Badminton Photo) 2014 World Championship followed a similar suite as she defended her bronze medal from the previous year. As was the case with last year, she overcame the then Chinese 2nd seeded Wang Shixian before losing in the semi-finals to eventual title winner Carolina Marin who had been her Achilles heel in every World championship since then. 2015 World Championship has been her only blot in an otherwise impressive World Championship resume. It till date remains the only year she didn't return with a medal in World Championships ever since she broke out into the scene in 2013. It wasn't a poor tournament by any stretch as she reached the quarter-finals before losing to top Korean singles seed Sung Ji Hyun against whom she has a mixed H2H record till date. 2017 World Championship was the most memorable performance for Sindhu till date, as this was the first final she had reached after three attempts the previous years. It was one of the most memorable finals performances the championship had ever seen. In a thrilling display of top-notch badminton, which spread over three sets, she lost to Nozomi Okuhara with the slenderest of margins which could have swung either way. She suffered a heartbreaking loss with a scoreline of 19-21; 22-20, 20-22. An interesting observation here was that Okuhara knocked Marin out in the quarter-finals denying the Spaniard a third consecutive World Championship. 2018 World Championship followed similar suite as she reached the finals for the second consecutive time before eventually losing to Carolina Marin who had come back to haunt her after losing the previous year. It was a defeat that she would never want to have in her memory as the physical beast that Marin is, blitzed past Sindhu with a scoreline of 21-19; 21-10 leaving Sindhu with no answers, who offered little to no resistance. P V Sindhu settled for a silver after being defeated by Carolina Marina in 2018 BWF World Championship (Source: Badminton Photo)
Analyzing Sindhu's chances at 2019 World ChampionshipWith reigning champion Marin having been ruled out of World Championship due to her ACL injury, which she suffered at the start of the year, Sindhu's chances to win the eluding gold medal has never been higher. Marin has denied her twice, once in 2014 and then in 2018. Marin has haunted Sindhu in all of her biggest career moments that includes denying Sindhu the most coveted Olympic gold medal in 2016 Rio Olympics. While sports athletes don't see an opponent being ruled out of a tournament increase their chances of winning, it can't be denied that having Marin out of the tournament is a major mental boost for Sindhu, especially in a tournament where Sindhu has been impeccably consistent despite her form over the months leading to the tournament.
How the draw fares for Sindhu?Sindhu has been handed a tricky draw in the 2019 edition and will have to work her way if she is to be granted a medal (bronze). Sindhu has been given a first-round bye and is likely to face Yu Po Pai of Chinese Taipei in the 2nd round against whom she has a comfortable 2-0 head-to-head record and is likely to be untroubled against her. In the third round, Sindhu is likely to face 10th seeded Beiwen Zhang who is a tough competitor and enjoys an impressive, but linear head-to-head record against Sindhu. Sindhu has a slight 4-3 record over Zhang, but hasn't played her in the whole of 2019, with the last meeting being the World Tour finals in December 2018, which Sindhu triumphed over, eventually winning the World tour finals. P V Sindhu has faced tough competition from Akane Yamaguchi this year (Source: Badminton Photo) Should Sindhu come over the Zhang hurdle, she is likely to run into the artistic queen Tai Tzu Ying in the quarter-finals. Tai was recently dethroned from World no. 1 position, by Akane Yamaguchi, despite having a phenomenal 2019 so far and has only seen a slight slump in the last month losing both the Indonesia Open and Japan Open. Tai enjoys an impressive 10-4 head-to-head record against Sindhu. In the last two years, Sindhu has lost six games against Tai, consecutively, before winning one at the 2018 BWF World Tour finals tournament, which happens to be the last time they both met. Tai is a tough customer, who can drain the energy out of you by just making you cover all the four corners of your court by her deception. Sindhu had mentioned earlier in the year that against Tai, it's just a matter of being able to reach all the deliveries that she throws at her. She was able to live up to that tactic having triumphed in the 2018 year-end finals. But can she do it again this time remains to be seen. Ironically, Tai has never won the World Championship, despite being the most consistent player in the badminton circuit over the years and is in search of her elusive World Championship medal.
Will 2019 be the third time charm for Sindhu?2019 has overall been a poor year for Sindhu in terms of form and I had covered her sluggish form in 2019 a few months back. But form has never been a factor for Sindhu when it comes to World Championships. She has always had the drive and will to push it up a notch in the Mount Rushmore of badminton tournaments. She has managed to return with a medal in past four of the five years and this tournament is her forte. She has a tough draw to reach the semi-finals, but I expect her to come against the odds.