I was quite apprehensive even before the match started against Carolina Marin.
Looking back at the Semi Finals with Li Xuerui, it was obvious that Marin can be a tough nut to crack. It is not that she is unbeatable, but her confidence of being at the two world Championships finals, in fact winning both, and also winning the All England Finals definitely gives her an edge in the all important Olympics finals.
When I look back at the Final match, I could easily say that Marin gained advantage with the attack on Sindhu’s backhand. Sindhu’s backhand return lacked pace. There was not enough pace on her return from clears on her left side, which gave Carolina Marin an opportunity to build the attack. Till the time the shuttle was on her forehand, Sindhu would look to attack, but her backhand returns against the clears especially in the first two games let her down.
If the backhand return against the clears were good, then Marin would have been forced to find other ways to win points. Though, Sindhu was able to win the first game, yet it was not enough.
The other reason was perhaps, Marin’s willingness to take shots around her head with the forehand stance, even when the shuttle was on her backhand. That made the big difference. Marin was able to add more deception in her around the head shots, which Sindhu was finding difficult.
Taking nothing away from PV Sindhu, could she have played a little differently?
I don’t think so.
The only way Sindhu could have played differently was taking the shot early, which became increasingly difficult; as Marin was physically fit enough to take shuttle very early. That made all the difference. The speed of the play was so fast that Sindhu was finding extremely difficult to catch.
However, Sindhu played brilliantly, and I hope within a year, she will be a much better player and will be a bigger threat at the world championships in 2017. Sindhu needs to improve her backhand push, and she must also need to learn the time wasting tactics when the opponent is scoring points at a stretch. Taking a break, and going for a towel can be crucial for a turnaround. It gives that extra time to think on what needs to be done when the going is tough, and it helps break the winning rhythm of the opponent.