PV Sindhu vs Carolina Marin: Sindhu has cemented her status as one of the best badminton players in the world. But much more is at stake.
PV Sindhu vs Carolina Marin: Sindhu has cemented her status as one of the best badminton players in the world. But much more is at stake. She has the desire, the hunger and the ruthlessness to be the slayer of the World No. 1. And standing between her and that goal is Carolina Marin of Spain. Marin herself is as hungry and focussed to make sure that does not happen. Both the players are on top of their games, but one of them is likely to be a loser while the other one is crowned the queen of badminton at Rio Olympics. There is no doubt there will be an epic battle going to be fought tonight at 6.55 pm India time (IST), but exactly which way will the game tilt? If you go by the rankings, this will be a no-contest. Marina is ranked at the top, while Sindhu is ranked World No. 10. But that is not where the narrative ends. Sindhu has beaten much higher ranked rivals to reach the finals to get the opportunity to play for the Olympic gold medal. She in fact beat Okuhara in the semi-final, a player she lost three consecutive times previously! Sindhu is on a hot streak! And as the semi-final match showed, she does not make many mistakes and punishes each one by the opponent severely.
What emerges from the play at Olympics is that Sindhu is an all-round excellent player. She will fit in any position and still be able to fire winners galore or at least get herself out of a hole and keep fighting for the point. Her ability to do so has gone a long way in getting her into the final today. Carolina Marin on the other hand prefers the European way. This consists of a power game where you get people out of position and take advantage of gaps that they cannot reach with timely shots or even smashes. That Marin is World No. 1 is proof that her strategy is perfect and that she has enough flexibility to deploy alternatives as and when required while dealing with some really recalcitrant or stubborn opponents.
Now, they don’t come more stubborn and ornery than PV Sindhu. Once upon a time the Indian girl was quite docile. In fact, she was the nicest girl of them all. Very polite and friendly. Till Gopichand happened to her and he shook all the niceness out of her and replaced it with the aggression and the ruthlessness of the tigress. Now, no more is she interested in her rival. All she wants to do is destroy them. Whoever it is, no concern is shown for their welfare, what she wants to do is grind them into the dust and that is exactly what she proceeds to do – and all along she will be wearing the biggest frown on her face. In the sem-final against Okuhara yesterday, Sindhu knew her rival was injured and the huge strapping on her thigh was the most visible part of it. In fact, that seemed to goad Sindhu further as the smell of blood for a carnivore and she placed the shuttle in positions where the Japanese girl had to stretch the most and go through horrific pain. Time after time Sindhu did this and eventually she left her opponent in no poition to fight back.
With Marin, who is supremely fit, nothing of the sort will happen. But there is a one huge weakness that in the Spanish player that Sindhu will look to take advantage of. And that is at the net. Marin gets virtually panicky every time a shuttle is dropped near the net. She scrambles to get it back flying long and often mis-hits them straight into the net or else skies it and allows the opponent to easily smash it for a winner. Time after time her Chinese opponents tried the trick and emerged as winners. But Marin was clever enough not to allow them to play this game for long. She managed to stamp her authority on the game and get the shuttle flying high on most points and that is her strength. She manages to win many, many more points in this manner than she loses.
Sindhu, who can match Marin in weight, height and even agility can exchange blow after blow and both can win points. So, on paper at least, both players have more or less the same skills and can go on exchanging blows galore and end up fighting to a climax. But for Sindhu profit lies at the net, because that is where she will win many more points than she will lose. SInce Sindhu is tall and is flexible, she can jump and drop shots at the net even better than the Chinese girls who are not as tall or as strong. And, her coach Gopichand, has taught Sindhu the art of perfectly winning points at the net. He was good at that himself and he has coached Sindhu to perfection too.
Implementation of each strategy is important. As important is the belief that she is good enough to be able to carry it out. Sindhu has shown that she can change her game at will and deploy the various strategies in her armament. She has a gameplan and she keeps ticking all the boxes as she goes along n the match, without emotion or showing any feelings. It is a job that she has on her hands and she wants to do it better than the best. And emerge winner.
So, PV Sindhu will look to bring untold joy to a nation that has been hungering for Olympic glory. 1.2 billion Indians are praying for her victory. GET US THE GONG, GOLDEN GIRL!