Sai Praneeth eyes medal in maiden World Championship

The Indian shuttler says, “I have never played in a World Championship and I would look to come back with a medal.”

B. Sai Praneeth... “The [Super Series] win has given me a lot of confidence but there has been still no sign of any sponsors.”   -  PTI

A title win at the Singapore Super Series has earned him an unexpected maiden entry at the World Championship and Indian shuttler B. Sai Praneeth says he is now looking to make it count with a medal at the prestigious tournament in August.

The 24-year-old became only the fourth Indian to win a Super series title in Singapore last month and his maiden victory saw him jump eight places to World No. 22, earning him a World Championship berth at Glasgow. “I never thought I will make it to the finals and certainly didn’t think about the World Championship. It was too far fetched for me as I had to win, not even a final finish at Singapore would have done it,” Praneeth told PTI.

“But I am of course very happy to finally win a super series title and also qualify for the World Championship. I have never played in a World Championship and I would look to come back with a medal,” he added.

Till that April Sunday, Praneeth had never won a Grand Prix Gold (GPG) event. He had clinched a Grand Prix event in Canada last year and the closest he came to winning a GPG event was when he finished runners-up at the Syed Modi International in January this year.

He had injured his shoulder during the final against Sameer Verma at Lucknow and was away from the international circuit to regain his full fitness. “It was difficult to miss out but I’m happy that I took the time to work on my fitness. The training under Mulyo Handoyo has really helped. He makes us work for long hours of two sessions in a day,” he said.

Rewards of sweat

Senior shuttler Parupalli Kashyap had once said Praneeth was one of the most skilful players in India. Ask him about it, Praneeth says: “I read that interview. Well, I don’t think I am that talented. It is just that my hard work has paid off this time. I was working hard earlier also but call it fate, everything favoured me at Singapore.”

So how has life changed? “Nothing has changed. It is all the same. The win has given me a lot of confidence but there has been still no sign of any sponsors. Of course, Yonex is taking care of me but nothing else,” said Praneeth.

Asked about his international schedule, Praneeth said: “Well, I will play the Thailand Grand Prix Gold and then Super series events in Indonesia and Australia.”

His performance in Singapore also saw him make a jump of 18 places to reach the 10th spot in the race to Dubai ranking. “Yeah, I saw the ranking. I am at 10th but it is too early. Only four super series tournaments are over and there are many more left to decide the World Super Series Masters qualification,” he said.

Praneeth burst onto the scene in 2010 after clinching a bronze at the World Junior Championships and had some big wins in his career over stars such as former World and Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat and World No.1 Lee Chong Wei.

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