I need to be mentally tougher, says shuttler Prannoy

"Mentally I need to be much stronger. I need to believe I’m capable of beating the top 10-12 players on a consistent basis, Prannoy said as he looked forward to the new season.

Prannoy, whose career-best ranking of 12 was achieved last year, is happy with his on-court show since coming back to the tournament scene after recovering from injury.   -  Sandeep Saxena

After an up and down year interspersed with injuries, Indian shuttler H S Prannoy feels he needs to improve on the mental aspect of the game and believe that he’s good enough to beat the best in the world.

“I could have done much better as I started well in the Swiss Open and after that I played really well in three-four tournaments. But the draws were tough which restricted my flow of wins and affected my rankings. Injuries also halted my progress,” the 24-year-old player told PTI during an interaction here today.

“Mentally I need to be much stronger. I need to believe I’m capable of beating the top 10-12 players on a consistent basis. That aspect needs to be worked on big time. Physically I am better than in 2014 or ‘15. I am much stronger now, move well on court and physically need to concentrate on a couple of things,” he said.

Prannoy, whose career-best ranking of 12 was achieved last year, is happy with his on-court show since coming back to the tournament scene after recovering from injury.

“The last four tournaments I played — French, Hong Kong, China — I was playing at a different level. I could not enter the quarter or semifinal, but was happy with the way I was playing. There has been a lot of improvement from August,” said the player, who will turn out for Mumbai Rockets in the upcoming Premier Badminton League (PBL).

He felt he now knew his body well after his injuries. “I think there are a lot of positives too as after each injury I know what has been going wrong. I now know my body well.”

Although 2015 has been his best year so far, a toe injury arrested his progress for a lengthy period of time, said Prannoy, who hails from Kerala but trains at the P Gopichand Academy in Hyderabad.

“The year 2015 was better. I got a good start, was playing all quarterfinals in Super Series events but then got injured (toe). I was laid off for six months. It was tough.

From there it took one year for the entire pain to go and my ranking went down from top 12. “But in 2016, I could play more tournaments and I think 2017 will be much better,” he said with optimism.

With the game’s authorities again experimenting with the point system, a new 11-point scoring format having been tried out in a few tournaments like the PBL, a fresh challenge awaits the players, and Prannoy felt he has to adapt or will be left behind.

“I don’t know about it. I am yet to play (as per the new point format). Even I don’t know whether it will suit me or not. Two years ago it might have suited me more. But you got to be ready for anything and take on all challenges. I feel you need to be mentally charged up more and need to be focused on each and every point. It’s going to be interesting.”

The world No. 29 has not thought about events post PBL and will have a week to rest and be ready for the Syed Modi Memorial Indian Grand Prix event at Lucknow.

“I have not really thought about Syed Modi as after PBL, I will have one week off. It’s a tough tournament as it will be a new season and New Year and all of them would be fresh.

“We will have so many Indians in the fray. Playing against fellow Indians is tougher as everyone knows the other’s game. I am just going to take it one round at a time.”

Looking ahead to the January 1-14 PBL, Prannoy said it’s going to be an interesting event with a lot many good players in it.

“This time it’s going to be more interesting. So many good players are there. According to me, it’s going to be tough. I am again coming off an injury. Last year was good as I could help my team get to the final,” the shuttler said.