PV Sindhu is India's one of the brightest medal hopes in Tokyo 2020. She will start her Olympic campaign against Israel's Ksenia Polikarpova on July 25.
She has been seeded sixth and will be eager to go the distance. Although Spain's Carolina Marin will be absent through injury, Sindhu has other contenders to deal with in Chinese Taipei's Tai Tzu-ying and Thailand's Ratchanok Intanon.
She has got a relatively easier draw in the group stages where she will take on Hong Kong's Cheung Ngan Yi and Polikarpova. The Indian has never lost a match against both shuttlers. However, the trickier draws await her from the knockout stages. Can she wade through the obstacles and reach the finals once again? Let us try to get an idea of her form by looking at all her performances in 2021.
Yonex Thailand Open
In January 2021, Sindhu got back to competitive action after almost nine months since her loss in the quarterfinals of the All England Open in March 2020. But she stumbled in her very first match.
At the Yonex Thailand Open, she lost to Mia Blichfeldt in the opening round. She started the match on a positive note by winning the first game 21-16, but the Danish shuttler came back strongly in the second to win 26-24 in tiebreakers. She carried the momentum into the third game and won it 21-13 to oust the Indian.
Toyota Thailand Open
Sindhu quickly got her composure back and enjoyed a better Super 1000 event at the Toyota Thailand Open which started within a week of her ouster in the Yonex Thailand Open.
This time she smoothly sailed into the quarterfinals without dropping a game and then clashed against Intanon. She struggled against the Thai player and was outclassed 21-13, 21-9 in straight games.
World Tour Finals
In the round-robin stage, she first met Tai Tzu-ying. It was an epic clash of three games and in the end, Sindhu went down. She was hitting the right chords in the first game and won it 21-19. But in the second she surrendered meekly as she lost 21-12. Sindhu waged a fierce counterattack in the third game but fell short in the end to lose 21-17. She is likely to face Tzu-ying in the semifinals at the Olympics.
Her next opponent was a familiar foe in Intanon and she was once again defeated in straight sets in less than 45 minutes. Her deception and shuttle control were too much for Sindhu to handle and she lost 21-18, 21-13.
However, before bowing out of the tournament, she defeated Pornpawee Chochuwong 21-18, 21-15 to regain some lost confidence.
Sindhu was at her best in the Swiss Open 2021 which was organised in Basel from March 2 to 7. She looked unstoppable in the initial rounds and met Blichfeldt in the semifinals, whom she had lost to in the Yonex Thailand Open.
But this time, the scores were settled and she blew her away in straight games. This win will boost her morale as she is likely to face the Dane in the first knock-out game in the Olympics.
In the finals, her good friend and close rival Carolina Marin was waiting for her. It took just 35 minutes for the Spaniard to triumph over her as she raced away with the title 21-12, 21-5.
All England Open
This was the final competition that Sindhu participated in before flying to Tokyo. She started brilliantly and won the first two rounds without breaking a sweat.
The first formidable challenge she faced was in the form of Japan's Akane Yamaguchi. In a long-drawn battle of over an hour, she prevailed over her opponent.
After losing the first game, she came back with more venom and vanquished Yamaguchi 21-16, 21-19. However, in the semifinals, she went down to Chochuwong in straight games, 21-17, 21-9.