History will be against PV Sindhu when she steps onto the court at the Tokyo Olympics. In the history of the Olympics, no female Indian athlete has ever won a medal in consecutive Games.
Amongst males, only Sushil Kumar has managed to win medals at two consecutive Olympics, when the Indian wrestler finished on the podium at Beijing (2008) and London (2012).
If PV Sindhu goes on to win a medal at the Tokyo Olympics 2021, she will emulate Sushil Kumar. A silver medallist at the Rio Olympics in 2016, PV Sindhu will have to repeat the magical display in Rio if she aims to create history at the Games.
It will be a herculean task for the 25-year-old PV Sindhu to see a medal hanging down her neck. The competition is quite tough at the world’s biggest sporting extravaganza.
Although PV Sindhu’s arch-rival, Carolina Marin, has opted out of the Tokyo Olympics, there are at least five other players who will challenge the tall Hyderabadi shuttler. Carolina Marin trounced PV Sindhu in the 2016 Rio Olympics final to emerge triumphant.
Carolina Marin pulled out of the Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday, June 1st, after suffering an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) tear in her left knee.
The defending champion Carolina Marin was a title favorite at the Tokyo Games, which will get underway on July 23. The Spaniard has won four of the five finals in as many tournaments this year.
Carolina Marin’s absence has thrown the competition quite open and given the other contenders a breather. Marin’s injured leg will require surgery and she will be out of action for at least three to four months.
Despite Marin’s absence, world No. 7 PV Sindhu is expected to get strong challenges from current world No. 1 Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei, Chen Yufei of China, Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand and the Japanese duo of Nozomi Okuhara and Akane Yamaguchi.
PV Sindhu's likely challengers
5. Akane Yamaguchi (Japan)
PV Sindhu has a 10-7 head-to-head record against world No. 5 Akane Yamaguchi. But the Japanese has won her last three matches against PV Sindhu, which gives her a major psychological advantage.
The 23-year-old has a game to dislodge any opponent on her best days. The former world No. 1 Akane Yamaguchi will have strong home support and she should be a dangerous opponent not only for PV Sindhu but other competitors too.
4. Ratchanok Intanon (Thailand)
Former world champion Ratchanok Intanon is one of the players who has troubled PV Sindhu in recent times. PV Sindhu was outclassed 18-21, 13-21 in the BWF World Tour Finals in Bangkok earlier this year by the talented 26-year-old Thai girl.
A week prior to the Bangkok tournament, PV Sindhu had tamely submitted to world No. 6 Ratchanok Intanon in the Toyota Thailand Open quarter-finals. It was another straight-game loss for the Indian.
PV Sindhu raced off the blocks and took a five-point lead into the first mid-game break of the match. Ratchanok Intanon, however, picked up her pace and nullified the Indian’s lead to take the first game 21-18. PV Sindhu tried hard to disrupt Ratchanok Intanon’s flow with her power game, but the Thai shuttler thwarted all her attempts.
3. Chen Yufei (China)
PV Sindhu enjoys a healthy 6-3 head-to-head record against Chen Yufei. The world No. 2 Chinese has been in splendid form in the last couple of years and has recorded wins against all the top ranked opponents.
PV Sindhu will have to play exceptionally well to get the better of the 23-year-old Chinese if they happen to meet in Tokyo. The tall and young Chinese has a free-flowing game to frustrate her opponents' tactics.
2. Nozomi Okuhara (Japan)
PV Sindhu and Nozomi Okuhara are two contrasting figures in court. While PV Sindhu is tall and lanky, Nozomi Okuhara is a pocket-sized dynamo. Both are traditional rivals on the international circuit.
The two have faced each other 17 times over the years, and their head-to-head record is almost equal. PV Sindhu leads with 9-8.
In the last meeting between the two at the All England Championships, Nozomi Okuhara had beaten PV Sindhu in three games. Millions of PV Sindhu fans still remember the day when the Indians demolished the Japanese to storm into the women’s singles final at the Rio Olympics five years ago.
1. Tai Tzu Ying (Chinese Taipei)
Tai Tzu Ying is undoubtedly the most powerful player on the planet and the current favorite to win the gold medal at the Tokyo Games. The world No. 1 has maintained tremendous consistency over the last couple of years, making her PV Sindhu’s toughest rival as the Indian guns for glory in Tokyo.
Tai Tzu Ying has become a nemesis for PV Sindhu as the 26-year-old holds a head-to-head record of 12-5 against the latter. Although PV Sindhu has troubled Tai Tzu Ying occasionally, the Indian would certainly have to certainly add a few tricks to get the better of the world’s best player.