Skipping the Nationals would have helped, says Srikanth

While admitting that the National Championships are important, Kidambi Srikanth said skipping the contest would have given him some much needed rest ahead of the Dubai Super Series Final.

Kidambi Srikanth had a successful 2017 as he became the first Indian to win four Super Series events in a calendar year.   -  AFP

World No. 3 Kidambi Srikanth, who became the first Indian to win four Super Series events in the 2017 calendar, said skipping this year's National championship would have helped him stay fitter and finish the year on a high.

Srikanth said stretching himself led to an injury, which affected his game in the prestigious Dubai Super Series Final earlier this month.

“I played two tournaments in two weeks. I went on to play all the 10 matches in two weeks and after that I had to play the Nationals. If I would have skipped the Nationals, I wouldn't have had that injury. It would have given my body some rest. Would have given me some time to train and play other tournaments,” said Srikanth, who was here to play the Premier Badminton League (PBL) for Awadhe Warriors, on Saturday.

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However, Srikanth, who overcame a knee issue, justified his participation in the Nationals where he lost to H. S. Prannoy in the final. “Nationals is also important. As a senior player, if I cannot do something for the sport, then it does really help.

On the rise of other Indian men's singles players, including Sai Praneeth and Prannoy, in the international circuit, Srikanth said, "I think the amount of training we are doing in the last three or four years is helping us now. And, suddenly we have started believing in ourselves that we can be on par with top level athletes. It is not an overnight process, we built that slowly... this year it is not just about me but many players who have done well."

The 24-year-old said he would not be under pressure to match his performances of 2017. “I don't really take it as a pressure. I just want to enjoy playing badminton. I am really not thinking about the result. For me, if I lose in the first round I want to come back without any regrets.”

Srikanth acknowledged that training with Mulyo Handoyo, who coached Taufik Hidayat to the 2004 Olympics gold medal, improved his performance. “Mulyo is someone who has 30 years of coaching experience... Having such an experienced coach made the difference.”

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About the tight schedule of 2018, which has multi-sport events like the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games, Srikanth said he would pick and choose his events. “Next year is definitely going to be tough...For me, it is important to think about my body, physical fitness and the tournaments.

“I don't really have any plans as of now. There is still a long time (left). I have be a couple of tournaments in January after the PBL. After that I will train in February for the Commonwealth Games.”

Srikanth saw the virtues of playing the PBL. “I am feeling fit now. The PBL will also give me enough match practice going into the Super Series events. Match practice, because I missed international circuit for a month or so.”