Analyzing PV Sindhu's opponents at the Tokyo Olympics 2021?
All attention will be on PV Sindhu as she takes the centre stage at the Tokyo Olympics 2021. The World number 7 created history by clinching the silver medal in the last edition of the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
Hence, the expectations will be sky-high this time as she chases the elusive gold. The Indian shuttler has a 10-6 win-loss record this year.
Badminton matches in Japan’s capital will be held from July 24 to August 2, 2021.
Analyzing PV Sindhu’s opponents in Tokyo?
1) Polikarpova Ksenia - World number 58
PV Sindhu leads H2H 2-0 against Ksenia
The 26-year-old Indian Shuttler has worked extensively on her defense with her coach Park Tae-sang. The Indian star has improved her motion skills and netplay. Hence, Sindhu may play a lot of drops and half-smashes against the experienced Polikarpova.
Expect Sindhu to consistently attack from the back of the court and Polikarpova’s unforced errors will make the difference. Ksenia has never taken her opponents to 3 games this season. The former silver medalist can win this in straight sets despite her rustiness.
2) Cheung Ngan Yi - World number 34
PV Sindhu leads H2H 5-0
Cheung from Hong Kong will be playing her maiden Olympics in Tokyo this year. The 28-year-old has already revealed her biggest ambition in her career, “Winning a medal in the Olympic Games”.
Ngan Yi is yet to win a match in 2021 having lost both her clashes. She last featured in the Toyota Thailand Open in May.
Sindhu will be wary of Cheung’s unpredictability. The Indian narrowly won in 3 games against Ngan in the 3rd round of the World Championships in August 2017.
3) Mia Blichfeldt - World number 12
Sindhu again leads H2H 4-1
Blichfeldt is currently one of the brightest talents in the sport. The 23-year-old has an impressive 10-4 win-loss record in 2021. The Dane also has a great record against Indian players.
She defeated Saina Nehwal 21-8 10-4 (retired hurt) in the All England Badminton Championships in the first round in March 2021.
The Danish shuttler won against PV Sindhu in the first round of the Yonex Thailand Open in January in 3 games. Mia’s uncanny ability to get points consecutively will be her biggest advantage.
Though the clash in Thailand was more than 6 months ago, Sindhu will remember that tough loss having led by a game. Predict this match to go the distance and the Indian will triumph after 3 tight games.
4) Akane Yamaguchi - World No. 5
PV Sindhu has the upper hand with an 11-7 H2H
Japan’s Yamaguchi has played just 2 matches in 2021. The homegirl will be woefully short of match practice after the postponement of the Malaysian Open and the cancellation of the Singapore Open.
PV Sindhu emerged victorious against Akane in the All-England Open in March this year.
However, Yamaguchi has an all-around game that could trouble PV Sindhu. The Japanese shuttler has won 3 out of her last 4 matches against Sindhu. The two champs also clashed in the Japan Open quarters in July 2019. Yamaguchi won 21-18 21-15 convincingly.
5) Tai Tzu Ying - World number 1
Ying leads the H2H record 13-5 against Sindhu
The top-ranked Tai Tzu Ying has a staggering 12-3 win-loss record this season. The Taiwanese shutter outlasted Sindhu in a 3-game tussle in the BWF World Tour Finals in January 2021.
According to the Indian’s coach, Park Tae-sang, Tai Tzu Ying will be Sindhu’s biggest rival at the Tokyo Olympics.
Tai has won her last 3 matches against PV Sindhu and her superior form in 2021 may well end the Indian’s Tokyo Olympics campaign in the semifinals.
However, PV Sindhu can put up a strong fight as she defeated Tzu Ying in straight games in the pre-quarters in the Olympics 2016. Specifically, the Indian star must watch out for Tai’s change of pace, down-the-line smashes, and passing shots at the net.
6) Chen Yu Fei - World number 2
PV Sindhu edges the H2H 6-4
The 23-year-old Chinese will be playing her first-ever Olympics in Tokyo. Chen is yet to play a tournament in 2021 as most of the competitions were canceled or postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
If Sindhu gets past Yamaguchi in the semis, it will be a herculean task to outwit the high-flying Yu Fei in the finals. The last 4 matches between the stars have been split 2-2.
Despite lacking match practice, Chen can go on an attacking spree against Pusarla. The Indian has to hit the shuttle to the corners of the court to tire out the Chinese youngster.
Despite the absence of her archrival Saina Nehwal and defending champ Carolina Marin at the Tokyo Olympics, PV Sindhu cannot put her foot down.
"It is not going to be easy, there are other good players, like Tai Tzu Ying, Nozomi Okuhara, Ratchanok Intanon, Akane Yamaguchi, Chen Yu Fei, you cannot expect easy wins or easy matches, because it's the Olympics and everybody is going to be prepared for it,” reflected Sindhu ready for the big challenge.
Above all, a combination of fitness, form, handling pressure, and managing the bio-bubble will determine how far PV Sindhu will go at the Tokyo Olympics 2021. The Indian will be the cynosure of all eyes and take 1 match at a time to grab the gold medal.
Featured Image Credits - Reuters