What Does Marin’s Withdrawal Mean For Sindhu’s Tokyo Medal Hopes
PV Sindhu comments on if Marin’s withdrawal from the Tokyo Olympics will impact her medal chances.
Carolina Marin, the women's badminton defending champion at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, has been forced to pull out of the big event this summer with an ACL injury that she will get operated on in the next week.
While Marin is the third ranked player in the BWF standings, the Spanish 27-year-old had been the most in-form player on the circuit this year, winning four of the five tournaments she played.
In comparison, PV Sindhu too took part in five events in what has been a severely curtailed badminton calendar due to the COVID lockdowns, but the Indian managed to reach the final in only one event – she lost the gold medal match at the Swiss Open to Marin in straight games.
So, with Marin ruled out of the Olympics, does it strengthen Sindhu's chances for a medal in Tokyo?
"I don’t think so," said Sindhu, when asked the question at an interaction with the media on the 50-day countdown to the Tokyo Games.
"In the women’s circuit, the top 10 players are of the same standard so you can’t take it easy if one player is out, due to an injury. If you look back, there’s Tai Tzu Ying, Ratchanok, Okuhara, Yamaguchi and An Seyoung and you can’t say that since one player isn’t there, then it might be easy. I don’t think so," she added.
A Dry Spell in 2021
Sindhu, the Rio Olympics' silver-medallist, will be the only Indian in the women's singles draw after Saina Nehwal failed to make the qualification cut – following the cancellation of BWF events that were slated to take place this summer.
The pressure for a second medal will be immense for the 25-year-old who insists that despite some below par outings this year, her form is close to peaking in time for the Tokyo Games.
"When I started playing this year, initially, I didn’t do so well because maybe, you know, there was a really long gap and playing the Thailand tournament was not really great for me. But I think I have come back and rectified my mistakes. I think the Swiss Open and then All England were really good and I have seen a bit of improvement in my game and I am really happy," Sindhu said on Thursday, 3 June.
The BWF tour was forced to be abandoned in March 2020 and only resumed in January this year, with two back-to-back Thailand Opens. Sindhu was knocked out in the opener in one and lost to Ratchanok Intanon in the quarter-final of the other.
Two weeks later, at the World Tour Finals, she did have revenge against her Thai rival but then was knocked out in the third round by world number 10 Pornpawee Chochuwong. In March, she reached the final at the Swiss Open, only to lose to Marin and then at the All England that followed, she again lost to Pornpawee, in straight games.
May was supposed to see the last leg of the Olympic qualifiers but rising cases and lockdowns forced countries to shut borders and cancel all tournaments, till the Tokyo Games.
Chinese Players Training at Home
While the badminton circuit managed to get in a few tournaments between January and March, the Chinese contingent refused to travel for any events and have not been seen in action in 2021. In fact, the two Chinese women's players who have qualified for Tokyo, Chen Yu Fei and He Bing Jiao, were both last seen in action in March of 2020.
"Chen You Fei, she’s obviously really good and obviously He Bing Jiao, the left hander, her skill is really good so we have to look out for them," said Sindhu, when asked about preparations on handling the world number 2 and world number 9, despite not having faced them in over a year.
"In the Olympics, it’s completely different. You know the pressure, the game, you know, everything. Because when it’s a bigger tournament, some people might play really good, some people might have that pressure on them. It just depends on that day because sometimes you might play brilliantly and sometimes it might not be your day," said Sindhu.
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