India’s badminton sensation PV Sindhu succesfully defended her Macau Open title. Clearly the most experienced player in the open this year, the world number 11 PV Sindhu beat South Korea’s Kim Hyo Min in the finals of the $120,000 Macau Open Grand Prix.
The title has come at a very opportune moment. Sindhu suffered two major defeats earlier at the Asian Games in Jeju and the Hong-Kong Open. Her opening matches in the Macau open were closely fought. However, she found her rhythm in the final stages and the victories started coming with lesser effort. Her semifinal win against Busanan Ongbumrungpan must have done her confidence good as she took the match comfortably in straight sets.
Kim Hyo Min: A Worthy Opponent
Ranked way lower than Sindhu at 91, Hyo Min has been exceptionally good through out the tournament. She beat a number of heavy weight contenders for the title on her way to the finale including China’s World No.19 Yu Sun. She’s being considered by many as the ‘next big thing’ in Badminton. However, the ‘almost-19’ shuttler has not won any tournaments so far in the senior circuit. Hyo Min put up a good fight against Sindhu but it was the Indian who emerged victorious in straight sets with a score of 21-12, 21-17.
Well Fought Finale
Sindhu’s start in the final against Hyo Min was again a bit nervy. She won the toss and served first but Hyo Min quickly picked up 3 points and Sindhu was down 0-3 before picking up a point to make it 1-3. Considerably taller than Hyo Min, she started her recovery from there. Hyo Min remained in the fight up until the match was still tied at 8-8. From there on, Sindhu got her groove going.
Both shuttlers have different strength areas. Sindhu was the offensive one while Hyo Min was good at defense. Sindhu’s smashes were being taken well by Hyo Min but Sindhu mixed it well enough. She commanded from close to the net and continuously pushed Min back and forth the court. As a result, Sindhu won a series of points on unforced errors through the game. Hyo Min had nothing in her arsenal to counter Sindhu’s straight down-the-court smashes.
Sindhu took the first set comfortbaly with a score of 21-12.
While Sindhu dominated much of the second set too and took the fray 21-17, Hyo Min had definitely bettered her game from the first set. She showed real promise and troubled Sindhu with her cross-court smashes. Sindhu was a little fortunate as Hyo Min lacked accuracy and her returns went out of play too many times.
2014: An Year Of Highs And Surprises for Sindhu
Sindhu ended 2013 on a high by picking a win at the Macau Open Grand Prix. After that, she stayed out of action for 2014’s first half. She took the break to focus on representing India at the Commonwealth Games. Subsequently she won the bronze medal at the Glasgow Commonwealth games but admitted that gold was for the taking. She lost to Mihelle Li of Canada in the semi-finals. Michelle Li went on to win the gold.
Later in August, Sindhu scripted history as she became first Indian to win two back-to-back medals in the BWF World Badminton Championships. Both of her World Championship medals have been Bronze. Sindhu’s performance at the Championship was truly outstanding. On her way to the semi-finals, she ousted some big names. First, she defeated World Number 5 South Korean Bae Yeon Ju in the pre-quarters. In the quarters her performance was even better against World Number 2 Shixian Wang. After losing the first set, she showed a determined recovery and beat the Chinese 19-21,21-19,21-15 in a match that lasted over an hour. Spain’s Carolina Marin beat Sindhu in the semi finals and also won Gold.
September was disappointing for Sindhu as she crashed out in the round-of-16 of the Asian Games in Jeju,South Korea. She was defeated by the World Number 22 Bellaetrix Manuputty of Indonesia.
Suffering another setback, she was knocked out in the second round of the Hong-Kong Open in November. Nozomi Okuhara of Japan, ranked lesser than Sindhu, defeated her in a three-set match. Sindhu had only faced Okuhara once before in the Badminton Asia Youth U-19 Championships in 2012 where she had emerged as the winner. This time around she lost 17-21,21-13, 11-21 to the Japanese shuttler.
The Macau Open was her final competition of 2014 and she grabbed an important individual title here. All’s well that ends well and we hope Sindhu carries forward the winning momentum to 2015.