After India went down to Japan in the semifinals of the Uber Cup, chief national coach Pullela Gopichand reflected on the net gains and losses from the team championships. Excerpts.
On the Uber Cup
It was a close match (Japan). Saina started off well and Sindhu fought like hell just like yesterday. It was good to see the spirit in her and we had our chances in the doubles when we were leading 8-4 (third game). But once we lost the doubles, we did not have the depth to stage a comeback.
If need be they will play at some of point together, but even if they had pulled off today’s match (Japan), I think it is not a great strategy to make them play doubles unless required. From a strategic point of view to have two singles back-to-back and be 2-0 up in the tie gives an advantage to the doubles pair. To tell them (Saina-Sindhu) that they are wanted in doubles will be difficult because it would affect their singles game.
Lack of depth in doubles
Lot of work needs to be done on the doubles front. We can only develop players once they come to a certain level. We don’t have the same amount of freedom what the foreign coaches have. Doubles needs to be groomed because unlike singles you can’t produce them individually.
For that you need freedom as a coach. In terms of forming doubles combinations, taking one (player) or moving the other….(freedom) is not there… So it needs tougher laws. If someone is selected for doubles, then he/she can only play doubles. Similarly, if you are selected for singles you will only play singles… however, that kind of authority is not there. We are too democratic in a way.
Positives from Uber Cup
Individually, Saina and Sindhu played exceptionally. Though Jwala and Ashwini lost today, it doesn’t take anything away from them. Thulasi did well. I wasn’t expecting her (Thulasi) to pull out her match against Japan. Siki (Reddy) and Pradnya (Gadre) were okay against Canada and against Hong Kong they were not that good. So overall from a team perspective we need to understand that first timers coming in and playing crucial Uber Cup matches was going to be tough.
On Thomas Cup show
If you look at Guru’s (RMV Gurusaidutt) two matches, he pulled out some good ones and you sometimes get players who are little tricky and you have to dig deep. There is so much of pressure on you, so it is tough to be playing the team championship. But I was happy with the way Guru won all his matches. K Srikanth beat Marc Zwiebler (Germany), which was good.
Need for doubles coach
We have two Indonesian coaches. We have two coaches in Madhumita (Bisht) and Vijaydeep Singh for doubles. I do take care of them. Even the singles players will say that I don’t spend enough time with each of them so it wouldn’t be fair to say that I distinguish between singles and doubles but yes I would love to have a lot more time with each of them.