New Delhi: The World Championship gold has healed the wounds of all past final debacles except the Rio Olympics, says Indian badminton ace P V Sindhu, who has kept an empty space in her trophy cabinet for the top prize, which she hopes to claim in Tokyo next year.
An Olympic silver-medallist, Sindhu clinched the historic World Championship gold at Basel after beating Japan's Nozomi Okuhara 21-7 21-7 in her third successive final.
Before that historic day, the 24-year-old Indian faced incessant for losing lost in the finals of major events such as the Rio Games, World Championships (2017, 2018), 2017 Dubai Super Series Finals, the 2018 Commonwealth Games and the Jakarta Asian Games.
"It (World Championships gold) takes care of all those losses. People have been talking about my final phobia, how I take pressure in the finals and I can say I gave the answer with my racquet," Sindhu, who has been recommended for Padma Bhushan, told PTI in an interview.
"But Olympics is a completely different feeling. Rio (Games) and World Championship gave me different memories, but, yeah, one gold medal is missing, so definitely I will work hard for that and would love to see myself win that Olympic gold at Tokyo.
"There is a vacant space (laughs) in my cabinet for that gold. The Olympic qualification is on and this win will give me the confidence to go further." Sindhu, however, says the path to the Tokyo Olympic gold will be a tough one as now her opponents will look to exploit her weaknesses and she will need to add something new to her game to achieve success.
"(Rio) 2016 was my first Olympics and nobody knew me much. I was just one of the players but after Rio, everything changed and now after the world championship, everybody will try and learn new things. I should also learn new things in each tournament, because people will have some kind of strategy for me," she said.
"I have been working with Kim. She had some changes for me and it helped me. But now I have to learn few new things. I need to work on net-play." Ranked fifth in the World currently, Sindhu has virtually sealed her Olympic qualification.
A higher ranking will help her avoid meeting top players when the draw is made at the Tokyo Games but Sindhu said she is unfazed about standings.
"Ranking matters because the draw depends on it but I don't really think about it because if I can play well, it will come up. At the end of the day, you will have to beat these top players again to achieve the gold," she said.
Asked if achieving the world No.1 ranking is on her mind, the former world No.2 said: "Yeah.. but I am not very particular about ranking and for now it is Olympics, it is ultimate goal, so after that it will be step by step.
"Next for me is China, so focusing on that," said the Hyderabadi, who is taking part in the China Open (September 17) and Korea Open (September 24) in the next two weeks.
While Sindhu and Saina Nehwal have put Indian badminton on top, there is a dearth of quality women's singles players in the country beyond them.
On whether she is concerned about lack of women's singles players, Sindhu said: "Well, after me and Saina, there is a little bit of gap. There are some junior players but it will take time. It is not going to be easy.
"A lot of players from other countries are doing well at the junior level whether it is Korea, Thailand or China. So I think it will take a few years till we have some players coming up.
"But they need to work hard. They have to be smart and be strong themselves about what they want," she signed off.