The contemporary game of PV Sindhu is in desperate need of rejigging upgrades and one actual reboot, but is instead spiraling downward under the weight of memories of former success.
Since winning a bronze medal in 2013 at the World Championships, it has been ten long and exhausting years of battle. The two Olympic medals should be added. However, someone would need to wake up the 28-year-old and make her aware of the fact that she is capable of numerous World titles, not just the one at Basel, and is built to go up to 32-33. Nozomi Okuhara is gradually fading away, passively following her lead in the tempo and cadence of rallies, showing little initiative of her own, and simply responding.
Nobody is certain that Sindhu's desire for a titanic battle has been totally quenched by winning the 2019 gold. However, her attack lacked sting and precision, and neither did her defense display the tenacity to play that one extra accurate shot that may have helped her escape Tuesday's 21-14, 21-14 rut against Okuhara. Sindhu exited her opening match at Copenhagen with ease, appearing to be the furthest she has ever been from the 21-7, 21-7 score and mentality of the Basel final, where she won the gold.
Reminiscing about the seventh anniversary of her Olympic silver medal from 2016 on the brink of a challenging World Championship campaign in 2023 indicated to a mind and body trapped somewhere in the past, as inspiring as it might be for her spirit.
Both Okuhara and the Indian entered the Round of 32 of the Copenhagen World's following a disastrous slump in performance over the previous 12 months. But only the Japanese player appeared prepared to put her 2017 World Championship victory behind her, turn the page, and actually put her head down in order to lunge and retrieve endlessly in order to recreate that victorious combative game, to start over in search of a new objective.
The Nagano-born Japanese player who was ranked No. 1 in the world in 2019 has since been sidelined and hindered by injuries for entire seasons. However, when Okuhara made her season debut on Tuesday, she was ready to put in some serious court time. It never ceases to amaze me how the 5'2 player, who plays the high shuttle game of jumping and arching back to strike the birds well behind her head, manages to cover such a staggering amount of court, much like Yamaguchi, point after painful point. I'm still 28. Although Sindhu wasn't striking with much force, the monotone of Plan A / No Other Plan that she did provide caused Okuhara to chase the shuttle to the net's diagonal corners and on either flanks. that the Japanese were willing to do.
As usual, Okuhara started by talking to herself as she approached the court, making a small bow of respect, and then lunging forward fully, getting herself ready for what was to come. Sindhu won the opening cross drop, but her successive angled strokes lacked accuracy and were thrown into the net. Although Okuhara only has a few outright kill shots, she was able to get by because neither Sindhu nor the other player was attacking with any force or accuracy from across the net. The Japanese shuttler completely neutralized Sindhu with her high serves and high tosses, and her determination in doing so, along with her capacity to bend low in stretch defense, let her to control the lengthy rallies as early as 4-3 in the first game.