Patience key as Srikanth plots his comeback

The former World No.1 Kidambi Srikanth feels a few injury free months will help regain his touch.

Srikanth's record against top-10 players in French Open 2017 is an ordinary 3-17.   -  AP Photo

These are heady times for Indian badminton. But not for the nation’s most successful men's singles player of the last decade, K. Srikanth. Since his string of four Superseries titles in 2017, and the subsequent rise to the top of the world rankings, the 26-year-old has endured a steep downturn.

Battling injuries and bad form, he has made just one final on the BWF World Tour -- India Open in March -- since the triumph at the French Open in October 2017.

With the 2020 Tokyo Olympics looming, Srikanth has his work cut out. “I have to be really patient,” Srikanth said. “I have gone through many injuries. I have not been able to train at a high level in the last year and a half. The first priority is now to sort out the injuries. It's a process. Things won’t change overnight. You don't even know if you will get it back if you work hard. I have to just continuously work thinking it will.”

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Even as Srikanth has managed to stay in the top-10, his win-loss record against fellow top-10 players since the French Open is an ordinary 3-17. What has been more troubling is his inability of late to beat even those below him. In each of the last five tournaments, including the World Championships, he has lost to a lower-ranked player.

“It is [frustrating] sometimes because you always get on to the court to win. But you should also understand your body. My knee has been hurting. It was around the Sudirman Cup (May) that it started. It's been on and off since then. I also got a little scared whether I can push myself or not.”

“I have lost about 10-12 quarterfinals [in the last year]. That [hurdle] is something which is there in my mind. But it isn't the only thing I am looking at. It is about improving. Even if I win a tournament, I come back and train to improve. Unfortunately, I have not been able to train at the level required.”

As he looks ahead to the China Open which starts in a fortnight, Srikanth felt it was crucial to stay injury free for a few months to regain his touch.

“In 2017 I was able to train at 100 per cent. Now I am in a position where I have to protect myself and that is showing in the results. But I am not really worried about the rankings and stuff. If I am able to play at my best for three or four months, I will be back in the top-8 for sure.”