Kidambi Srikanth: Aim is to win a medal at Rio

Kidambi Srikanth explains why he is participating in two Super Series tournaments before the Olympics.

Kidambi Srikanth says that the top 20 players in the world now are at the same level.   -  Nagara Gopal

Kidambi Srikanth will play the Indonesian Open in Jakarta (May 30-June 4) and the Australian Open in Sydney (June 7-12) with the aim of winning sufficient points to get into the world's top eight rankings — which will help him avoid the top four players till the quarter-final stage of the Rio Olympics.

Presently ranked No. 12, the 23-year-old Srikanth has an uphill task, but India’s only men’s singles qualifier at South America’s first Summer Games, is going to make an all-out effort at Jakarta and Sydney.

"I’m very happy to be through to the Olympics. It would have been much happier had I been in the top eight ranking. I did not pull out (notch wins) in my last few tournament matches. My aim now is to get into the top eight. If I gain some points and return to the top eight from these two tournaments, comparatively I may get an easy draw at the Olympics. The five to eight ranked will play one to four only in the quarter-finals and nine to 16 ranked would play one to four in the pre-quarters. I am happy with the way I am playing, but I must find a way to pull out those tough situations.’’

In the city, along with P.V. Sindhu, for a week to undergo Pilates training to improve the core strength and stability aspect of his body at a studio in suburban Santa Cruz., Srikanth revealed his ultimate ambition of winning an Olympic medal at Rio.

He has played 27 Super Series, Grand Prix Gold, Grand Prix and Asian Championship matches this year and won 17, the best of them against Indonesia’s Tommy Sugiarto.

However, the young and aggressive player who beat top-notch Chinese player Lin Dan in the final of the China Open 2014 said: "The Olympics will be a learning experience and I want to win a medal at Rio. I am trying everything, don’t want to leave anything undone."

Touching upon his preparation for his first Olympics, he said: "I have really pushed myself in the last six months, played too many tournaments. This is the time for me to take some rest and prepare for the particular tournament.

"After the Australian Open, I will have almost two months break, which is a very good time for me to prepare for the Games. I will just focus on the Olympics. I am not sure about the courts that will be used at the Olympics. No one has been there. We will go to Rio 10 days before the Games and I think that will be enough to get used to the conditions. I don’t think Brazil has too many good players. I have never played them.’’

Srikanth also said that the top 20 players are at the same level now.

"It depends on a particular day, who is mentally strong, plays with a strategy and gets it all right. It’s always tough to play somebody like them (Lee Chong Wei, Lin Dan and Chen Long) in big events. They have the exposure and experience and they know how to handle pressure. We should believe in ourselves that we can do it. Lin Dan, Chen Long and Chong Wei have lost matches this year. As for the training they do in the tournaments. It looks almost the same for all.’’

Srikanth also revealed the secret behind his winning performances. "Speed, strength, strategy, ability to visualise and capacity to surprise the opponent... Do things that he would not expect you to do.’"

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