Staying fit the focus for Sai Praneeth after victorious PBL campaign

B. Sai Praneeth won six of the eight matches he played for the eventual champion, Bengaluru Raptors, in the fourth edition of Premier Badminton League (PBL)

Sai Praneeth in action for Bengaluru Raptors at the fourth edition of Premier Badminton League (PBL).   -  K. Murali Kumar

B. Sai Praneeth, One of India’s leading shuttlers, believes that his performance in the just-concluded Premier Badminton League (PBL) for the victorious Bengaluru Raptors - winning six of the eight matches he played - should give him the kind of confidence he badly needed as he gears up for the Olympic qualifying cycle later this year.

The 26-year-old Praneeth, whose ability to beat the best and who has lost to lesser-known players at the highest level is pretty well-known, says that even he didn’t expect to play as well as he did in the PBL.

“The fact that I won more matches in this edition for my team than playing for the victorious Hyderabad Hunters last season is of great satisfaction. And, most of them were crunch games,” he said.

“Somehow, I was feeling my old self again with the way I played in the PBL. The problem with me is not about my game but about fitness. Once I get the confidence that I can last the full distance, the strokes start flowing from my racket,” says the soft-spoken world No. 22.

“I don’t think there is any serious need to change my game at this stage. It all depends on how well I focus on my fitness in this big year. Yes, playing in too many tournaments with little time for recovery and practice did affect my performances in terms of winning titles last year,” he says even while gently reminding that he did reach the last year’s World championship quarterfinal in China.

“There will be pressure because of the mad rush as the 2020 Tokyo Olympics qualifying events start from May and end in April next year. But, again, one has to be fit and raring to go,” Praneeth said.

“Yes, playing with someone like World No. 8 Srikanth (Kidambi) for Bengaluru was itself a huge experience. We both shared a lot of things (when Srikanth was playing Praneeth was sitting along with the coach and vice versa). He knows the in and out of most of the players’ games and that helped me a lot,” says the shuttler.

“Definitely, after the 2017 Singapore Open win against Srikanth in the final, things would have been different if only I had won a couple of more big events. But again, I was never short of commitment. Sometimes things don’t fall in place as you like to be. So, eagerly waiting for a much better 2019,” Praneeth signed off getting ready for the next week’s Indonesian Open after skipping the Malaysian Open starting today.

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