Returning to the international circuit after a four-month injury layoff, India's top shuttler Kidambi Srikanth feels he needs to work on his endurance and is hoping to regain confidence by defending his title at the Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold starting Tuesday.
Srikanth, who had reached the quarterfinals at Rio Olympics in August, had injured himself in Japan and aggravated a stress fracture on his right ankle during his loss in the Korea Super Series last September.
"My ankle is fine and my body is also totally fine but I can't say I am 100 per cent fit, but still I am fit enough. Of course, I can’t really compare my fitness with what I was before the Rio Olympics," World No. 15 Srikanth told PTI.
"I didn't get too much time to train. It has been 10 days after the PBL (Premier Badminton League) ended that I have been training, of course, I had started before the league and the league also was sort of match practice and with the sort of performance that I had at PBL, I'm feeling confident," he added.
Srikanth, who had reached a career-best ranking of three in 2015, had a good run at the PBL where he defeated the likes of World No. 2 Jan Jorgensen and World No. 3 Viktor Axelsen in his four wins for Awadhe Warriors, besides losing to compatriot Ajay Jayaram.
"Right after coming back from injury when you beat somebody in the top four, it is definitely a confidence booster for sure but still it is a 11-point format and we can't compare it with the 21-point scoring system," said a guarded Srikanth, who had clinched the 2014 China Open and 2015 India Open.
"I am playing well and some of my on-court strokes are at par with the best players but because of the too much rest after the Olympics, I think I need to concentrate on my off-court training to get back my endurance so that I can be there throughout the three games in a match," he added.
The defending champion will look to retain his title at Syed Modi International tournament which will also see the presence of foreign players such as Thailand’s Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk and Denmark’s Hans-Kristian Vittinghus, besides fellow Indians H. S. Prannoy and Ajay Jayaram.
"I am really excited because I am playing international tournament after four months or something. I didn't get a four-month break in last 4-5 years so it is a really big break for me. I feel the match practice for PBL is good enough for Syed Modi tournament," he said.
"It is a tough competition for sure. Not only for the foreign players but also for the Indian players who are playing well. I don't have too much expectations from the tournament, I just want to get back my confidence."
The main target will be the All England championship in March and Srikanth will be skipping the Thailand Grand Prix Gold to be ready for the hectic schedule ahead.
"After Lucknow, I will be playing the German and then the All England Championship, so I will get enough time to train for the big tournament," he said.
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