Prannoy: I am now playing to my potential

With three major events lined up in the next three weeks —India, Malaysian and Singapore Open), Prannoy is hopeful of improving his ranking and qualify for the Olympics.

H.S. Prannoy after clinching the Swiss Open badminton championship on Sunday.   -  Special Arrangement

For long, Prannoy has been quietly performing in the shadow of the more popular and higher-rated players like Kidambi Srikanth, Parupalli Kashyap and Ajay Jayaram. But on Sunday, this Thiruvananthapuram-born shuttler finally emerged out of that and proved his mettle winning the Swiss Open title in style on Sunday.

H.S. Prannoy believes his Swiss Open triumph has come at the right moment, not only giving him the confidence but also a glimmer of hope to be in contention for the Olympics. It was his first major title after the 2014 Indonesian Open GP and the 23-year-old said “it was better late than never”.

“Honestly, I was not thinking in terms of winning the title. Having lost after the first two rounds in a couple of events before the Swiss Open, I decided to take it match by match and only once I reached the quarterfinals, I set my eyes on the title. I am definitely glad that most of the aspects of my game fell in place,” the young shuttler said in an exclusive chat with Sportstar on Monday

“What really pleased me in the Swiss campaign was that I was really patient and not rushing things. Now, I feel that I am playing to my potential which was not the case not long ago,” he said.

Winning crucial points

“The best part is that I played well most of the crucial points right through the tournament to clinch the title,” the World No. 27, who is a big fan of Taufik Hidayat and Peter Gade, said. “The confidence is back. Now I need to focus more on speed as I do feel that I am bit a slow right now.”

“With three major events lined up in the next three weeks (India, Malaysian and Singapore Open), I am determined to improve my ranking and once that happens, it will take care of my bigger goal of qualifying for the Olympics. But it is not going to be that easy,” said a pragmatic Prannoy.

Coach’s role

“Whatever success I have achieved in the circuit is just because of Gopi sir (Pullela Gopi Chand). Only after I joined his academy in 2009 that I got the confidence of being good enough to play in the seniors circuit.

“Most of us owe our success to the training pattern at the academy and to the kind of commitment Gopi sir shows in ensuring that we get the best of coaching. He also gets involved in the planning of tournament exposure,” explained Prannoy.

Heaping praise on Prannoy, BAI president Akhilesh Das Gupta on Monday announced a cash award of Rs 5 lakhs for his stupendous performance.