It was an incredible women's final at the Badminton World Championships in Basel, Switzerland. PV Sindhu massacred her opponent from 2 years ago to win India's first gold medal at the most prestigious badminton tournament of the year.
Having lost 2 consecutive finals in 2017 and 2018, Sindhu was determined to pick up the elusive gold. She had also won a couple of bronze medals in years gone by. But it was gold that she was after at the St. Jakobshalle Stadium.
After losing the first point of the first game, Sindhu sped ahead to take an 8-1 lead. Her strategy to keep the Japanese player at the back of the court until she got an opportunity to unleash her thunderous smash, was probably derived from Ratchanok Intanon's game play against Okuhara in yesterday's semi-final. Intanon could not sustain her strategy, but Sindhu executed it to perfection!
She hardly played a drop in the first game and went into the break with a 9 point lead at 11-2. Okuhara's slow drops were not helping her cause as Sindhu had the net covered. She tapped Okuhara's drops in decisive fashion, leaving the Japanese with little hope of revival.
It was a sight to see the contrasting styles in coaching between Kim Ji Hyun and Pullela Gopichand. While the latter was gesturing for Sindhu to maintain her calm, the former was pumped, probably more than Sindhu. She was doing all she could to promote Sindhu's aggressive game. It was the calm coach - aggressive coach routine that worked wonders for Sindhu!
She finished the first game in style at 21-7, matching the scoreline from yesterday's semi-final against Chen Yufei from China.
Sindhu was in no mood to relent in the second game, as she powered through to a 11-4 lead at the mid-game interval. She was using her drops more often to capitalize on Okuhara's tendency to move back before the shuttle was struck.
Her smashes were hit at incredible speed and even when Okuhara got her racket to the smash, she was unable to control the return. Sindhu wound up the game at 21-7, to win with a symmetric scoreline of 21-7, 21-7.
No one expected such a demolition, especially in the final of the most heralded event in badminton. All credit goes to Sindhu for trusting her instincts and playing with supreme confidence. It must have felt great to avenge her loss to the same opponent, in the same tournament, at the same round in 2017.
Sindhu is now India's only gold medal winner at the World Badminton Championships. Hats off to the golden girl of Indian badminton!