Srikanth: 'It was hard to shake off Olympics loss'

India's shuttler K. Srikanth, who eyes a comeback with participation in Macau Open following an injury layoff, has said it was hard for him to shake off the loss in the quarterfinals at Rio.

Srikanth..."If I play a few events and do well then I have a good chance of coming back into the top eight."   -  PTI

Eyeing a comeback at Macau Open following an injury layoff, shuttler K. Srikanth says the initial tournaments he plays will be crucial to get his confidence back as he aims to regain his ranking spot within the top 10.

A former World No. 3, Srikanth slipped out of the top 10 in March this year. He reached the quarterfinals at the Rio Olympics and then played at the Japan Super Series where he injured his right ankle.

“It was a small injury. It’s okay now. I will be playing the Macau Open. I’m skipping China and Hong Kong. I have started training this week, I have to step up the training gradually. I don’t want to push myself too much, don’t want to do things hurriedly,” said Srikanth, who had clinched the 2014 China Open and 2015 India Open.

“I have to keep working. It is tough to be at the highest level consistently so we have to keep working hard and I have been able to play well but sometimes I could not finish matches the way I want to. I have to work much harder and I hope the comeback will be better.

“I am not thinking about the ranking. I just want to come back strong and perform well. The initial tournaments are really important to get back the confidence. If I play a few events and do well then I have a good chance of coming back into the top eight,” said the Indian, currently ranked World No. 13th.

Playing his maiden Olympics, Srikanth had conjured up hopes of reaching the semifinals before losing narrowly to China's Lin Dan at Rio. Asked if he has got over the loss, Srikanth, who had beaten Lin Dan in the 2014 China Open final, said: “Yes, kind of.”

“We play 12 Super Series events in a year and if you lose early in one, you still know that there is another tournament. But for Olympics, it comes every four years and you give your heart out in the tournament, so it was really hard for me to take the loss because I had lost at a close margin. So I didn’t talk to anybody then, I wanted to take some time off.

“But anyways, that’s how the sport goes. We can’t expect to win all the time. One has to win and one has to lose. What is important is to come back hard. If you lose against a particular opponent, you really want to win the next time. You need to train mind to come back really hard. I was happy with the way I played at Japan but then there was some injury and it aggravated,” he said.

'Timing crucial'

The 23-year-old from Guntur said he has to plan his schedule better from next year so that he can maintain a balance between training and competing at the circuit. “It is always very tricky when to take a break. The timing is crucial because you can’t really skip tournaments where you have played well in them last year. Maybe next year I can plan a little more keeping everything in mind, with all the experience that I got this year,” he said.

“Before the Olympics I had to rush because of the ranking, so had to play many events. After the Olympics I have been choosing, but then I had this injury. Next year, I have so many options of choosing tournaments.”

Srikanth also feels the top 20 players - in terms of rankings - in men’s singles are almost at the same level. “In men’s singles, I think all the top 20 are playing well. If you see the last top four tournaments there are different winners, I think it is equally balanced. It is just how well you play on that particular day. Everyone is almost there,” Srikanth said.

The Badminton World Federation (BWF) is testing an 11-point best of five format in the scoring system. “I haven’t played the 11-point format. So can’t really say the difference much. But I guess it is upto them. If they really implement it then nobody can do anything about it. But that’s how it was when the format was shifted from 15 to 21 format. Everyone has to get adjusted to it,” he said.

Srikanth emerged as the costliest Indian buy at the recent Player’s auction when he bought for Rs 51 lakhs by the Awadhe Warriors for the second edition of the Premier badminton League. “It will be different. The level will be high this time. There are 16 Olympians participating this year. We will have more tough matches than the last time. I hope we do well as a team,” he said.

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