Praneeth: 'Indian badminton will be a force to reckon with'

Third seed Praneeth, who beat Indonesia’s Jonatan Christie 17-21, 21-18, 21-19, registered his 11th win on the trot.

This is Praneeth’s maiden Grand Prix Gold title.   -  PTI

Indian shuttler B. Sai Praneeth, who is on a high after winning the Thailand Open Grand Prix Gold on Sunday, says he is immensely pleased that he pulled it off under pressure in the decisive moments of the final against Indonesian Jonatan Christie 17-21, 21-18, 21-19.

“It would have been terrible if I were to lose having come so close in the final. Ok, if you lose a contest in straight games with scores of 21-13, 21-11, it doesn’t hurt you much. But, having put up such a fight and coming so close, I am glad that I held my nerve and scored the big points,” the 24-year-old Praneeth informed Sportstar referring to the fact that he was trailing 2-7 in the deciding game of the final.

“It was anybody’s game and I must say that I am really happy about winning this title. Any win in a tournament final is always welcome,” Praneeth said.

“It is a big victory as it helps you improve your world rankings and gives you the kind of confidence you should be looking for ahead of the other big events lined up - Indonesian Open and the Australian Open,” the champion shuttler said.

“I don’t want to make any comparisons whether the Singapore Open was bigger than the Thai Open or not. But, I am glad that I am really playing well,” he said on winning his maiden Grand Prix Gold title.

“Winning or losing titles is part of the game. What is important for me is that I am really playing well now,” says the young shuttler from Gopi Academy.

“I will put it this way. This Thai Open win is a reminder, if someone needed, that my victory in Singapore Open was not a fluke,” says Praneeth.

“In almost every aspect there is improvement - especially in net-play and defence. Even in fitness, I am really moving much faster now,” Praneeth said.

“Definitely, I am much stronger mentally and physically and geared up for bigger challenges even as I continue to work more on my fitness. I know that I have the game and it is only a question of time of getting everything right on the given day,” he said.

“I didn’t feel the pressure of expectations after the big win in Singapore Open earlier. I normally don’t think of anything else other than focussing on the job at hand. Consistency is what I should be aiming for now,” the World No. 24 said.

“Yes, Indian badminton has a very bright future in men’s singles given the way we have been performing at the highest level. We will be a force to reckon with, thanks to Gopi Sir,” Praneeth said.

“I dedicate today’s win to Gopi Sir, all the coaches at the Gopi Chand Academy and my parents."

The Badminton Authority of India (BAI) has announced a cash reward of 3 lakh for the champion shuttler's stellar display in Bangkok.

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