Kidambi Nandagopal making a mark of his own

Kidambi Nandagopal is in the mood to carve a niche for himself in doubles even as his illustrious brother and World No. 9 Srikanth is chasing his ultimate goal of winning an Olympic gold.

Shuttler Kidambi Nandagopal (right) with mixed doubles partner K. Maneesha.   -  Special Arrangement

It is never easy to be the lesser known brother of a champion shuttler. But, Kidambi Nandagopal is in the mood to carve a niche for himself in doubles even as his illustrious brother and World No. 9 Srikanth is chasing his ultimate goal of winning an Olympic gold.

“Honestly, I never tell anyone about me being his brother. I try to achieve what best I can and enjoy every moment on the court,” says 26-year-old Nandagopal, fresh from three All India senior ranking doubles titles (including two mixed doubles partnering K. Maneesha).

“I don’t think there is any pressure on me for I never think to emulate what Srikanth has achieved. Yes, I feel proud of him, but at the same time, I am conscious that I have to be in my own zone,” he says.

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“We don’t have the time to discuss our game since we train at different academies. Only when I am playing, do I have some telephonic chats with Srikanth,” he said.

“The biggest handicap for me is that I have no regular partner right now and this has to be resolved at the earliest to look ahead and plan accordingly,” says the doubles specialist.

“Life has never been easy for me. At the start of this year when I was hoping to break into the top 25 in world doubles with my partner Alex Francis, he tore a ligament on his knee and is out of action for more than six months now,” reminds Nandagopal, who won the mixed doubles title in Cochin and men’s doubles and mixed doubles titles in Bareilly in the last three weeks.

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“Yes, thanks to my doubles coach Tan sir (Tan Kim Her) and the support staff at Gopi Academy, I am able to be in the hunt for titles with a makeshift partner and 17-year-old Ghouse Sheikh,” he says.

“But, the major problem is that since Ghouse doesn’t have any BWF rankings, I get stuck in terms of improving my ranking points and consequently miss the entry to some majors like the Syed Modi and the Tata Challenger scheduled later this year,” says the officer in Comptroller & Auditor General.

“Definitely, I am glad at winning these titles and hope to sustain the momentum once I have a long chat with my coach Kim Sir about the future plans,” he said.

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For someone who enjoys every title-triumph, Nandagopal is determined not to convey an impression that he is fading out.

“That is one thing I hate and I am grateful to Ahmedabad Smash Masters for retaining me and giving a huge opportunity to be in the limelight at the end of the season too,” he signed off.

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