It was another final, another epic display yet another agonising loss!PV Sindhu contested her third major final in the last two years on Sunday and went within touching distance once more before falling painfully short again.It was an hour and 34-minute-long battle against Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi in the BWF World Super Series Finals Sunday night just as Sindhu and Nozomi Okuhara of Japan had fought for an hour and 50 minutes in the World Championships final in August. A year before that Sindhu went down to Spain’s Carolina Marin in the Rio Olympics final in one hour and 23 minutes. All the matches saw a similar result — Sindhu having to settle for silver.Visibly, Sindhu never gave up, she never does. It never looked like she has developed a mental blockade when it came to finals, what is it then that is stopping Sindhu from touching greatness?While the Rio Olympics final was Sindhu’s first big match where the entire country had her eyes on her, by the time the World Championships and Super Series Finals came, she was used to the expectations. In the 2016 Olympics, Sindhu had run out of ideas by the end of the match and Marin was finding angles that were tough for Sindhu to pick. Marin is one of the few left handers on the international circuit and that automatically gives her an upper hand in terms of finding angles but at that point of time, Sindhu was yet to mature.However, both the finals at Super Series Finals and the World Championships had a similar pattern to them – the fact that both those opponents were Japanese cannot be missed.advertisementHowever, what was most obvious to naked eye was how physically drained Sindhu got halfway through both those games.One can always argue that her opponents had got tired as well but clearly not as quick and as much as the Indian. And no, that doesn’t amount to Sindhu being an unaccomplished player but rather to her style of play.AGGRESSIVE GAME PLAYSindhu is a very tall athlete and that inherently enables her to cover the court incredibly well and makes her shots from the back court very powerful. And that is exactly why she is feared on the circuit.However, her opponents have got wind of that — they engage her in longer rallies, find acute angles and force her to play lunged forehand net shot, which is definitely not her strength.After Rio Olympics, Sindhu worked a lot on her endurance knowing that she was not the most skillful player but a lot of work still needs to be done.Since Sindhu is tall, bending back and forth takes up a lot of her energy and though, she has worked immensely and has improved that bit of her game, she needs far more endurance to eke out crucial points.Also, Sindhu is a very attacking player, which means she thrives on her smashes which again requires a lot of energy.The tall Hyderabadi is a very committed player and she commits herself to every point from the very beginning of the game and that is exactly what tires her halfway through the match.In Sunday’s match against Yamaguchi and even against Okuhara in August, Pullela Gopichand was seen screaming instructions at Sindhu to preserve her energy and go for decisive shots only when they are at her tips. However, Sindhu had lost a lot of her energy by then and she was hoping for Yamaguchi to make errors. But that did not happen.Yamaguchi is technically very strong and along with her fitness, that is unique to the Japanese, her ability to create shots under pressure makes her an immense threat.Both those matches, Sindhu lost through unforced errors and that only highlighted her fatigue.ROAD AHEADSindhu is already working on getting some deceptive shots up her sleeve. She already has all kinds of smashes at the tip of her frame.Despite being a very good athlete, there one aspect that is needed to make her complete — fitness.Sindhu’s fitness still needs to improve by leaps and bounds. Her opponents are constantly targetting that. Engaging her in longer rallies and draining out all her energy has become the biggest weapon to defeat her.Now, she will have to work to counter that.There are lots of skillful players on the circuit but none as powerful as Sindhu and she needs to make that her strength.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Add a century of career titles to Roger Federer’s staggering list of tennis achievements.The 20-time Grand Slam champion became the second male player to win 100 tour-level tournaments in the professional era when he beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 6-4 in the final of the Dubai Championships on Saturday.Jimmy Connors is the other player to reach the milestone, and the American ended his career on 109 titles.“Welcome to the ‘Triple Digit’ tournament victory club,” Connors said in a Twitter post to Federer, “I’ve been a bit lonely — glad to have the company!!!”By beating a player nearly half his age, the 37-year-old Federer continued his record of winning at least one title every season since his first in 2001 in Milan. Eight of his victories have come in Dubai.“It’s been a long, wonderful journey . I have loved every minute,” Federer said. “It’s been tough but the sacrifice has been very, very worthwhile and we’ll see how much more I’ve got left in the tank.“Reaching 100 is an absolute dream come true for me.”As well as his record haul of Grand Slam titles, which includes a record eight wins at Wimbledon, Federer has won a record six ATP Finals and topped the rankings for a record 310 weeks — including 237 straight.Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece returns the ball to Roger Federer of Switzerland during their final match at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Saturday, March 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)In a battle of the generations, Federer avenged his loss to the 20-year-old Tsitsipas, a rising star from Greece, in the last 16 of the Australian Open in January.Federer broke serve in the first game and took the set on his fourth set point.The second set was more even, but Tsitsipas made the first big mistake in dumping an easy shot into the net to lose serve for a 5-4 deficit. His opponent then held serve to love to join Connors in the century club.“I’m so happy I’m still playing,” Federer said. “It all started as a junior world champion. It’s been great. I wouldn’t do it any differently.”TweetPinShare0 Shares