Sameer Verma: ‘I’m best prepared for All England C’ships this time’

“I want to win a big tournament and I want it to be All England,” the World No. 14 says ahead of the tourney.

Sameer Verma believes he has what it takes to break into the top-10 in world rankings.   -  Rajeev Bhatt

India’s Sameer Verma, the World No. 14 in singles, is motivated to do well at the All England Championships.

“I want to win a big tournament and I want it to be All England,” Sameer told PTI.

His campaign at the tourney, which begins on March 10, 2019, kicks off with a contest against Viktor Axelsen, the World No. 1 and the former world champion. “I have lost twice to [Axelsen] but I am not too worried. I played him around seven-eight months back. At that time, I was not at this level. I think I am much better prepared to take him on. My mindset and strategy have improved a lot now. I can’t tell about the results, I am not thinking about them but I feel I’m best prepared for the All England this time.”

‘I can be in top-10’

Sameer, who attained his career-best ranking of 11 in January, 2019, said he has the self-belief to break into the top-10. “If I [had] won the World Tour Final or reached the finals, I would have broken into top-10. The loss against Shi Yuqi is still in my mind, I guess it will only go once I win something big. But I have the idea now, I know I can be in that top-10,” he said.

The loss to Shi Yuqi that Sameer was referring to was the semifinal contest at the World Tour Final. He had lost 12-21, 22-20, 21-17 to China’s World No. 2 player.

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However, he is more keen on taking on the World No. 1 — Kento Momota. “I want to play Kento Momota. I had beaten him at Swiss Open but I lost to him at the World Tour Finals and I want to test my game against him, compete against him,” Sameer said. With both players placed in separate halves of the draw, the only way they can play each other at the Championships is if they reach the final.

Diet and nutrition

These tests notwithstanding, it is also important to look after the body and its nutrition and recovery. With a hectic schedule ahead, focussing on mind and body will remain Sameer’s aim this season. “I think I have cared a lot for my body last year. The physios were with me in tournaments also, so it helped. You also have to take care of the diet. Nutrition is something I need to think of as it also helps in recovery,” Sameer said.

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He added: “Results in tournaments don’t matter, because you might not perform in 2-3 events, but they will come eventually. Last year, I won the Swiss Open and the Hyderabad Open but I didn’t do well in all events, so I know I can do better.”

The Tokyo Olympics in 2020 in on the horizon, and the qualification period begins from April 29, 2019, but Sameer isn’t keen on overly focussing on qualifying for the marquee event. “You can think of [the Olympics] as a normal tournament and not take any pressure, and stay stress free. That would be the way I would want to think because otherwise, it will affect my performance,” Sameer said.

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