India’s Rio Olympics silver medallist PV Sindhu started her campaign in Tokyo without breaking a sweat, cantering to a comprehensive 21-7, 21-10 win over Ksenia Polikarpova of Israel in a women’s singles Group J match on Sunday.
Sindhu, India’s biggest hope for a medal in badminton competitions at the Tokyo Olympics, raced to a straight games victory in just 29 minutes, not allowing her opponent any chance in the match.
In the first game, Sindhu won 13 consecutive points from six to build a big lead that was enough to overwhelm Ksenia. In the second game too, Sindhu maintained the pressure, winning points at a steady rate as she started her campaign on a winning note.
Ksenia is ranked 58th on the BWF World Rankings, while Sindhu is seventh. And the gulf was evident in the final outcome of the match. Such encounters against lower-ranked players tend to be a bit laborious for the higher-ranked players if they take things too easy and become a bit complacent.
As the lower-ranked players do not have anything to lose, they come well prepared, thus causing problems for the higher-ranked player. Such a thing had happened for India’s B Sai Praneeth in the men’s singles Group D match on Saturday as he lost to Misha Zilberman of Israel.
However, Sindhu went into the match very focused and played her usual game.
“Even though my opponent was lower-ranked, I didn’t want to assume it would be easy. It is important to be focused. I made sure we had some rallies and I got used to the court,” Sindhu was quoted as saying in flash quotes provided by Badminton World Federation (BWF).
Sindhu said she used the match as preparation for tougher opponents that she will encounter in the knockout stage.
“It’s important to make sure you play all your strokes and get used to them on the court because you can’t play them all of a sudden against a stronger opponent, you can’t do that. It’s important to know that your strokes are going well,” she said.
Sindhu said she will continue with the same approach in the next match against Cheung Ngan Yi of Hong Kong in the three-player group from which the winner will qualify for the pre-quarterfinals.
“Each match is important, and it’s one match at a time. I’m thinking about my next opponent (Cheung Ngan Yi). I will miss the spectators, but everyone is supporting me virtually.”
Asked about the pressure as she is hoping to add to the silver medal she won in 2016 Rio, Sindhu said she is taking the Tokyo Olympics as a fresh tournament and not thinking much about the past.
“Tokyo is a fresh start, and it’s important to be ready every day. Everybody will be in top form. I came with that mindset, and I’m not thinking of the past, but what’s ahead.”
If she wins her second Group J match, Sindhu has some tough opponents lined up in the knockout stage as she is scheduled to play third seed Mia Blichfeldt of Denmark in the pre-quarter finals.