With India achieving unprecedented success this season, Kidambi Srikanth feels it will be a great chance for his country to return with their best ever medal haul in badminton from next year’s Commonwealth Games.
“Last time we had won a good number of medals and now we are playing much better than what we were four years back and we have a great chance of winning more medals this time,” Srikanth told PTI ahead of his opening match against compatriot Subhankar Dey at the Denmark Open.
“We have also the mixed doubles and men’s doubles players doing well, apart from the men’s singles. So we have a pretty good team this time,” he said. Just a fortnight before the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, Srikanth had collapsed in the washroom at the Gopichand academy with a brain disease and had to be rushed to the ICU. He spent over a week at the hospital before returning to
action at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
More than three years have passed ever since and now he laughs off at the incident. “I had comeback from a small disease and I wasn’t in good shape. It was some sort of a virus, I don’t even know the name. Nobody even wanted to tell me that,” he laughs. “But I was playing good enough so I returned and played at the Commonwealth Games but lost to the Singapore guy. But now after four years, I think I am much more confident after all the experience of the last one year, so it will be different,” he added.
Srikanth is likely to clash with local hero and World Champion Viktor Axelsen in the quarterfinals of the ongoing Denmark Open Super Series premier and the Indian said he did not have any past baggage despite the straight game losses that he suffered in the last three outings.
“He has definitely grown as a player. I won against him twice, both the times in the finals of Swiss and India Open and the last three times he came out on top. We have different body types. Everytime we play it is different,” said Srikanth.
“I once played against him in Dubai in my fifth continuous tournament in 2015 and I couldn’t push myself and then I played against him at India Open this year. I was coming back from injury and he was on top of his game and he outplayed me and the last time was in Japan and it could have been anyone’s game at 17-all in first game.
“I would say I played him fairly well and I don’t have any regrets and the next time I play him, it will be a different match and I don’t want to think about past results and put some sort of pressure. It is always fresh conditions for me,” he added.
Talking about the year gone by when he won the Indonesia Super Series Premier and Australian Open besides reaching the finals of Singapore Open, Srikanth said: “It is fairly good year for me so far. The beginning was not that good. After coming back from injury, I played really well. There are four more Super Series tournaments to go and I really want to finish well.”
The 24-year-old from Guntur had lost all his three matches at the 2015 Dubai Super Series Final and surely this is one tournament which would be in his mind as he is ranked second in the Destination Dubai Ranking this time.
“It is an important event. After China and Hong Kong, I will think about Dubai Super Series Final. I reached semis in 2014 and in 2015 I lost in league stages but it doesn’t matter. We as player have to forget what had happened and start afresh. So I don’t want to think about what happened in 2015,” Srikanth said.
One of Srikanth’s secrets of success is his ability to stay unscathed by failures and learn from them. Asked if there is anything which he had trouble getting over, Srikanth said: “Not really, every time someone asks me this question, I only think about the Rio Olympics
quarterfinals, nothing else comes to my mind. I really feel the Olympic loss made all the other losses look really small.
“I don’t think about the losses, never did. I am okay to take the loss, it is just that I want to learn from those,” Srikanth, who had lost in the Rio Games quarterfinals to two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan in a closely-fought tie, added.
With a number of the big-ticket events coming up next year, Srikanth is looking to be in best shape for the important tournaments and said scheduling will be important to achieve success in a gruelling season.
“I really want to play a fixed number of tournaments and don’t want to play all the tournaments and push myself for the ranking. I will play around 10 tournaments and then play Commonwealth, Asian Games and World Championship and then there is Syed Modi which is compulsory and PBL, so it would make it 15-17 tournaments anyway,” he said.
His rampaging run this season saw him shoot up in the prize money list and Srikanth said he will announce a few sponsorship deal next month.
“Ya, I have a few deals coming up, my management company are in talks with some major firms and may be after these two tournaments I will announce some sponsorship deals,” he signed off.