Badminton queen PV Sindhu’s biggest moments on the court

Often regarded as a big-game player, the Indian shuttler has lived up to her top billing time and again throughout a glorious career.
By Naveen Peter

The leading light of Indian badminton PV Sindhu has entertained her fans with some high voltage performances throughout her career.

Be it at the Rio 2016 Olympics or the numerous World Badminton Championships - an event that has often seen PV Sindhu bring the best to the court - or the various Tour events, the Indian star already has a host of glorious memories to look back on.

As badminton fans across the globe eagerly await the return of the sport, here’s a look at some of the matches that saw PV Sindhu push herself to the limits, never giving up in her pursuit of excellence. Here are five moments where we saw PV Sindhu's best from her career in badminton:

PV Sindhu’s Olympic moment: Rio 2016 final

Going into Rio 2016, Indian attention was firmly focused on London 2012 bronze medallist Saina Nehwal, sparing Sindhu much of the nation's expectations.

Though the Indian had made the final without dropping a game, with an equally charged up Carolina Marin of Spain standing across the court in the final, PV Sindhu would need something special to have the precious gold medal around her neck.

And the manner in which she started the match showed exactly that.

In what was a closely fought opening game, the Indian would hold on to her nerves to see through some testing rallies and take a 1-0 advantage earlier on.

But the best was yet to come as the Spaniard once again pushed PV Sindhu to the brink in the second.

This time, however, Carolina Marin - backed by some powerful strokes and lighting quick court play -- took the second game in just over 20 minutes.

And with the momentum going for her, the then world champion went on to neutralise the Indian threat by banking on her big-match experience and strong all-round play to take home the biggest prize while India celebrated the Olympic silver medal.

Result: PV Sindhu lost to Carolina Marin 21-19, 12-21, 15-21.

I really fought very hard and gave my heart out. When I came to the final, I told myself just one match to go and you could win a gold medal. Give it your best, and I tried very hard. I feel it was her day.”

Greatness in Glasgow: World Badminton Championships 2017 final

The 7000-odd spectators that filled the Emirates arena in Glasgow to the brim to watch the final day’s action at the 2017 World Badminton Championships witnessed a truly epic encounter.

In a match that lasted for 110 minutes, both shuttlers struggled to stand after the final point. It was a match befitting for the Worlds final and the badminton world ensured that they stood up and saluted two brave warriors - PV Sindhu and Nozomi Okuhara - for delivering one of the greatest matches in the history of the game.

While PV Sindhu had her powerful jump smashes and lighting-quick returns that helped her garner the much-needed points, Okuhara was technically superior, often catching her opponent off-guard with her smart racquet work.

One of the stand-out aspects of the tie was the rally that helped Sindhu win the second game and push the match into a decider. A rally that lasted for a staggering 73 shots.

In what was nothing less than a energy sapping slugfest where the shuttlers opted to play the waiting game, returning every shot that was thrown at them. Every angle was explored, every fibre of muscle in the body was stretched to create an opening and everything that they had learnt throughout their career was tested.

The rally was so exhausting that even after Okuhara played one on to the net to hand the Indian the game and fall flat on the floor, PV Sindhu barely had the energy to celebrate the point.

However, the Japanese would regain her composure soon and rely on her nimble footwork and anticipation that was best to none on the day to reign supreme after a draining three-game tie.

Result: PV Sindhu lost to Nozomi Okuhara 19-21, 22-20, 20-22

It was mentally and physically tiring. At the end of the day, we both fought really hard because each point was important for both of us. Until the last point, we never thought it was over.”

PV Sindhu’s turning point: China Masters Super Series 2012 quarter-final

Back in 2012, the Indian badminton world revolved around Saina Nehwal.

The Hyderabadi had become the first Indian shuttler to win an Olympic medal and had also earned the moniker of ‘Dragonslayer’ for her consistent performance against quality Chinese opponents.

It was then when PV Sindhu chose to announce herself on the international stage. And the then 17-year-old couldn’t have chosen a better match to do so either.

Up against the newly crowned Olympic champion, Li Xuerui of China, in the quarter-finals of the China Open Super Series, the Indian produced a fine show registering a top-quality win to lay down the marker for what was to follow.

PV Sindhu is the first Indian woman to win an Olympic silver medal.

While PV Sindhu had great match awareness in the opening game to negate the Li Xuerui and take a 1-0 lead against the Olympic champion, the Chinese ace came by strong to draw parity with a 21-9 humbling in the second.

Though many thought the young Indian would wilt under pressure and concede the match, PV Sindhu showed her character to go toe-to-toe with the Chinese shuttler and test her abilities with some quality stroke selection and fine net play before emerging victorious.

A confident three-game win against China's most consistent player that year, PV Sindhu showed early glimpses of the talent she possessed.

It’s no surprise that the Indian ace considers this to be the turning point in her career.

Result: PV Sindhu beat Li Xuerui 21-19, 9-21, 21-16

Well, honestly I did not expect that I would beat her, that too in her own country. Of course, she is an Olympic gold medallist and has been playing at the highest level of the sport for a long time now. I wasn’t scared. I just knew that I had to give my best and I played my natural game and won against her.”

PV Sindhu, the big game player: BWF World Tour Finals 2018

PV Sindhu is regarded as a big-game player. And her performances at events like the World Championships, World Tour Finals and the Olympics have often been a testament to her undying resolve.

But even for the Indian ace, there have been low points. And one such run was in 2018 where she went 13 months without a title (she reached seven finals during this phase).

Close losses to quality opponents at crucial junctures in the competitions saw critics question her ability to win pivotal points at crucial moments.

But the Indian professional badminton player would dispel all the doubters with a determined show at the season-ending BWF World Tour final in China.

While the title was special in itself, the manner in which PV Sindhu went about her business was a joy for every fan of hers.

And nothing summed up better than her win over the then world number one Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei, against whom the Indian had six of her previous matches in a row, in the group stage of the competition.

In the past, while PV Sindhu would go into her shell and adopt a defensive mindset if she saw her opponent rally into the tie, at the China event, the Indian shuttler was calculative in her efforts and relied on her strengths to see her through and draw level.

Having fought her way back into the tie after dropping the opening game, the third too looked certain to go the distance when PV Sindhu upped the ante to take seven straight points and wrapped up the match in a fine manner.

Result: PV Sindhu beat Tai Tzu Ying 14-21, 21-16, 21-18

Couple of times when I was leading and they came back, I would be nervous before. But now I am comparatively much stronger at it. Just focus on the next point. (Earlier) I tend to keep thinking and lose 2-3 points.”

Champion’s delight: BWF World Championships 2019 final

It’s no surprise that the World Badminton Championships has seen the best that PV Sindhu has to offer. And her trophy cabinet is a proof to this.

With a gold, two silvers and two bronze medals, Pusarla Venkata Sindhu is the most successful Indian to compete at the World Championships.

And though she won her first medal - a bronze - at the 2013 edition in Copenhagen, Denmark, the 24-year-old had to wait six years more years for the gold medal in 2019.

This time too, standing in her way was the Japanese Okuhara, who two years ago dueled it out for one hour and 50 minutes before taking the title from her grasp.

But at the 2019 edition, there was no such drama as PV Sindhu brought her best to the table even after she lost the opening point after a 22-shot rally.

She went on to pocket the title in 37 minutes in what was one of the most lopsided finals in Worlds history.

Result: PV Sindhu beat Nozomi Okuhara 21-7, 21-7

I am really happy, I have waited for this victory, and finally I've become world champion. I've no words to express because I was waiting, last year it was silver, before that it was silver and then finally I'm world champion.”