Beating Li Xuerui turning point of my career: PV Sindhu

Up against a newly crowned Olympic champion, the Indian badminton player would display great character to pocket a career-defining win.

By Naveen Peter

It was long before she became the cynosure of Indian badminton. PV Sindhu was still an upcoming talent when she faced a newly-crowned Olympic champion in China’s Li Xuerui at the 2012 China Open Superseries.

Not much was expected of the then 17-year-old Indian. But not overawed by the opponent, PV Sindhu went about her business in a fine manner to record a three-game upset over the favourite.

PV Sindhu considers that win against Li Xuerui to be the turning point of her career. 

“She was the Olympic champion at that point of time and I beat her in the quarter-finals. That surely was the turning point for me,” shared Sindhu in an Instagram Live session In The Sportlight with table tennis player Mudit Dani.

The win over Li Xuerui would fuel PV Sindhu’s passion as she would go on to win the first of her five World Championships titles.

Until then, it had been an uphill battle for the Indian shuttler, who had dominated the national age-group tournaments but had found her transition to the international scene a bit tough.

“When I started playing in international matches, I kept losing in the first round and qualifying matches,” she said. “I thought I had to work much harder. But for a really long time, I was stuck.

"I used to get to the last point, and I used to keep losing. I used to think ‘what's going wrong, what mistakes am I making?’"

But all that changed after she faced Li Xuerui. PV Sindhu displayed some great match awareness to negate the Chinese ace’s gameplan in the opening game to edge ahead.

Though Li Xuerui came back stronger -- taking the second 21-9 -- PV Sindhu would barely be affected by it as she stuck to her strategy to push and probe the Chinese shuttler before pocketing the match.

The win would fuel PV Sindhu’s passion much more as she would go on to win the first of her five World Championships titles. 

The 2020 season might not have gone as per plans for the Olympic silver medallist. But that hasn’t stopped PV Sindhu from making the most of her time at home. At least, she has been able to indulge in some offbeat activities.

“I have been learning a few things; like I paint nowadays,” revealed the 25-year-old. 

“I am also cooking and baking. It's really interesting because earlier it was always badminton but now you are learning different stuff which is creative,” she signed off.