Midway through the first game against Denmark’s Mia Blichfeldt in the Tokyo Olympics on Thursday, coach Park Tae-sang told India’s PV Sindhu that she was rushing with her defence and should be more patient.
Sindhu, silver medallist at the Rio Olympics five years ago, changed her tactics and scored points at will as she has reached the women’s singles quarterfinals, beating her Danish opponent 21-15, 21-13 at the Tokyo Olympics on Thursday.
Playing aggressive and deceptive shots that kept her opponent on the run throughout the match, Sindhu outplayed Mia in just 41 minutes.
“I started off well. In the first game, I was rushing in defence a bit but my coach told me that I was playing the wrong way and I was able to change how I played. And then in the second game I think it was fine, I maintained the lead and was under control,” said Sindhu after the match.
Mia, who was ranked 11th in the world a couple of years back, had sent Sindhu packing from the Thailand Open in January this year though the Indian had won their last encounter, found the Indian star, gunning for gold here, too strong on Thursday and could not play her usual game as Sindhu took control from the start.
Sindhu will next play the winner of the match between Kim Gaeun of South Korea and Akane Yamaguchi of Japan.
Sindhu, playing solid and steady throughout the match, came into her own in the middle of the first game as she opened up a handy lead and went out to win it 25-15.
She was more dominant in the second game as she surged ahead to a 7-2 lead. Playing with the stadium drift behind her, the Indian could unleash her smashes and mixed them with deceptive drop shots that had Mia shaking her head in frustration.
Though Mia tried to fight back, Sindhu built on her five-point advantage to reach 20-11 and had nine match points, capitalising on some unforced errors by her opponent.
Mia saved two match points but Sindhu could not be denied on Thursday and sealed a well-deserved victory.
Sindhu has always done well in the big tournaments, which is evident in the silver medal she won in Rio de Janeiro five years back and her performance in the World Championships, in which she had a full set of medals, having won gold in 2019; silver in 2017 and ‘18, and bronze medals in 2013 and 2014.
The 26-year-old said she does not think of the importance of the tournament when playing and takes it match-by-match.
“A lot of people have told me that. I will take that as a compliment. But for me each and every game is important. It’s important to focus on every point, and not the match,” Sindhu told the BWF, the sport’s world governing body, after the match.
When the draw was made, everyone thought that the match against Mia would be the first big challenge for Sindhu in the knoclout stages. But the way she played on Thursday, it appears she is very focused and it will take a lot of effort to stop her.