Korea Open: Tai Tzu Ying presents an early challenge for PV Sindhu
In a season that goes on for 12 months of the year, the greatest challenge for a player is to shake off a disappointment and bounce back in the very next tournament. The 22-year-old PV Sindhu has not had much time after her heartbreaking defeat in the final of the 2017 World Championships in Glasgow just two weeks ago.
Because the Superseries season has resumed, the focus is on a different prize now.
For Sindhu, diving headlong into the Korea Open Superseries in Seoul this week might act as a balm to heal the wounds she sustained in Scotland, though. A title in Korea will help her forget that setback and concentrate on finishing her already memorable season on a high.
But the task is an uphill one. The one player whose absence may have made each of her opponents breathe easy in Glasgow, has returned.
With the top seed and World No. 1 Tai Tzu Ying in the mix, it is a different ball-game altogether not just for Sindhu but for everybody vying for the crown.
She had opted for the World University Games which was being held in her native Chinese Taipei and chose to give badminton’s flagship event a miss. Will she be able to bring her swashbuckling form back into the circuit, something that had presented her with three Superseries titles apart from the Asian Championships honour this year?
That is what all badminton aficionados will be keen to see when main draw play gets under way on September 13.
Sindhu vs Tai in quarter-finals
Fifth seeded Sindhu will be her first possible roadblock. The two are slated to meet in the quarter-finals if the Indian overcomes the likes of World No. 17 Cheung Ngan Yi in the first round and the 16th ranked Nitchaon Jindapol in the second.
Sindhu needs to bring her fearless brand of badminton to put the wily Chinese Taipei ace in a rough position. The pair had a scintillating encounter in their last showdown at the Australian Open quarter-finals in June where the World No. 1 saved a match point to pull off the win.
Will her heroics at the World Championships infuse Sindhu with a new vigour and help her end her three-match losing streak to her nemesis? That remains to be seen.
Even if it does, Sindhu still cannot hope for a thorn-free path. Third seed Sung Ji Hyun of Korea lurks in the semi-finals. The home support can play a big role to uplift the player who lost to Sindhu in three games the last time they met at the India Open.
Okuhara lurks again
In the final, none other than the world champion Nozomi Okuhara is likely to be waiting for her. The Japanese is seeded eighth and has a couple of players in the half who can upset the applecart, namely the second seed Akane Yamaguchi and the seventh-seeded Ratchanok Intanon.
But would they be able to summon the courage and conviction needed to upstage the Japanese after the dazzling show she put up in Glasgow? If Sindhu and Okuhara do indeed cross swords again, what a moment would that be for women’s singles badminton!
Sindhu will be hungry for revenge and Okuhara will do everything possible to blunt her attack and engage her in some brutal rallies.
It goes without saying that such a final has the potential of setting the badminton world ablaze once again.
Sindhu’s road is indeed littered with threats at every corner but if the Indian can really surmount all these barriers successfully, it will be one of her most satisfying title wins ever.
Schedule for first match on December 13, 2017:
(5) PV Sindhu vs Cheung Ngan Yi at 1.25pm local time/9.55am IST