Brute force and no mercy: How Sindhu conquered the Worlds


The allure of gold. It can be both a delightful dream as well as a terrible affliction. PV Sindhu funneled hers into a 37-minute montage of carnage. A World Championship match like none other. Bloodbath, if you will.

At the other end of the court, Japanese opponent Nozomi Okuhara collected herself on her haunches, befuddled at her own misery and the Indian's mastery.

Chomping down the World No.4 with the most belligerently one-sided final scoreline of 21-7, 21-7 in the history of the tournament, Sindhu rushed to throw her arms around coaches Kim ji Hyun and Pullela Gopichand. The Korean, a gold medallist at the 1994 Hiroshima Asian Games, joined the national side earlier this year having served at the BWF training academy in Saarbrucken as well as the New Zealand and Korean national teams.

Kim has been credited for arming the 24-year-old Indian with a game that goes beyond plain imperious. There is both clearer thinking and smarter execution that has now slipped into her weaponry.

It is maybe why Sindhu was quick to request the post-match presenter if she could add in a few more words after he had presumably wrapped up his regulation queries. The first was a note of gratitude to both coaches, with Kim noticeably taking precedence in her mention over her longtime mentor. The other was a birthday wish for her mother. She let the sweat-beads dance on her forehead as she thanked everyone in attendance with a low courteous bow and an ecstatic beam.

The World Championship is a beast unlike any other. It's titanic both in stature and bragging rights, carrying the most ranking points together with the Olympics, and stepping aside every four years for the Games to take center-stage.

It was not until Sindhu stepped on to the podium to the call of her name on a drum roll and the accompanying crowd chants that the sheer enormity of the moment descended on her like a thundershower. She was flush with emotion, biting her lip and gulping down a full-blown sob. After four medals (two silver, two bronze) and three straight finals, she is now the first ever Indian world champion in the sport. It's a prefix she bossed, bullied and willed to be her own through the week, stymieing former world No. 1 Tai Tzu Ying, making a meal of 21-year-old Chinese Chen Yufei and finally shredding Okuhara with a butcher's cleaver.

It also turned the Sindhu narrative for a final - tense, heart-stopping, reductive slugfest - on its head. There was none of it. The 110-minute cliffhanger of epic proportions between these two players that was the 2017 final almost looked like it belonged in another era. Going into Sunday's match with a wafer-thin 8-7 head-to-head lead, Sindhu was the firm favourite having beaten Okuhara three times in their four previous meetings.

Normally, Okuhara lays the trap beautifully, drawing Sindhu into long rallies and slackening the Indian's pace. It's what she attempted at the World Tour Finals last year which Sindhu foiled with even greater bedevilry. It was to end the Indian's unflattering run of seven consecutive finals losses. Sindhu was typically prosaic in her summation of what she thought lay ahead on the eve of the final: 'There's no strategy really, we've played each other so many times and know each other's games so well'.

On Sunday, it was just Sindhu on the slow, drift-free courts, a 36-barrel 'metal storm' machine gun, a behemoth of a cannon, firing endless, booming rounds as Okuhara arched, jumped, leaped, and fell. The Indian's brute force, attacking clears, pressure on the backline, deep corners and masterful use of the entire court scythed through Okuhara's plans A, B and C, if she had any.

For Sindhu, momentum and initiative is massive. Stall her and she might flag even if with whirring hands. Cede her the lead and she'll chew you up. The Indian opened up an 8-1 lead early in the first game as Okuhara threw anxious glances at her coaches, who sat glum, arms crossed over their chests.

Kim was now mouthing instructions with a hint of a head bang to imagined music. At 5'1", 23 cms shorter than Sindhu, Okuhara typically summons up her Euclid-like command over geometric angles, like she did in the final two years ago. Not today. There was no room, scope or sight. The Japanese has, counting Sunday's match, lost all four finals she's featured in so far this year. It was 11-4 at the changeover of the second game and Okuhara was now just trying to hang onto the final dregs of respect.

Sindhu, following Sunday's win, now has a supremely imposing CV - reigning medallist at the Olympics, World Tour Finals, Asian Games and Commonwealth Games, as well as the freshly-minted world champion.

With less than a year to Tokyo 2020, this gold is her intent in screaming, bold letters.