Srikanth: 'India is handed a tough draw at Sudirman Cup'

An injury after the Olympics last year caused a downfall in Kidambi Srikanth's rankings. The shuttler, who finished runner-up at the Singapore Open, is slowly getting back to his best. The World Championship, for him, is "one of the most important tournament this year" but his focus for now is the Sudirman Cup.

Kidambi Srikanth, ranked 14th in the world, finished runner-up at the Singapore Open.   -  PTI

Singapore Open finalist Kidambi Srikanth said India has been handed a tough draw at the Sudirman Cup and it will have to put on its best show to win a medal in the mixed team championship.

“I feel we have a really tough draw as we are up against Indonesia and Denmark. I think these are one of the strong teams. So it won’t be easy but if it is our day, then, we can win,” Srikanth told PTI.

“India is part of the top eight teams and all these teams are very strong but I feel we need to prepare ourselves to play at that level and that is the only option. [We] can’t think about the matches and draw. We have to bring out the best we can,” he added.

He booked his World Championship berth by entering the final at Singapore Open. More consistency will help him win the medal in Glasgow, the venue of the World Championship.

Victories in 2014 China Open and 2015 India Open catapulted Srikanth to the third place in the world rankings. Then, an ankle injury after the Rio Olympics set him back. But he bounced back to reach the final in Singapore and is now ranked 14th.

“I am happy with the way I came back from the injury. To comeback and play at that level keeps me motivated."

"Luckily I qualified for World Championship too so I am really looking forward to the event,” Srikanth.

“There are many tournaments before I play at the World Championship so it would be very important for me to get the important match practice because I have been out of the international level."

“For me, playing consistently in the next few events is the target. World Championship is one of the most important tournament. So I really want to play well there and win a medal."

“I was third seeded in 2015 and Lee Chong Wei wasn’t seeded and I was set to play him early and this time I hope such things don’t happen again. I am really focussed on winning a medal there,” said Srikanth, whose best performance at the World Championship is reaching the pre-quarterfinals.

Last October, Srikanth posted a picture of his injured leg on Instagram.

He missed the China Open, failed at the Japan Open and went back to work on his fitness.

He played well in Premier Badminton League (PBL) but failed to defend his Syed Modi title and then crashed out early at the India Super Series.

“For every player such lows will be there, getting injured is not in our hands, we can’t predict that. We have to forget that phase and start playing again. It took me some time to get back."

“I have seen many of my seniors doing that, I have seen (Parupalli) Kashyap doing that, (H. S.) Prannoy also did that so it is really motivating, which always reminds me that anything is possible,” he said.

Talking about competition, Srikanth said: “I don’t know exactly about the top 10 but the top 30 is playing at the same level. Me and Sai Praneeth played at Singapore final and we are above 25, so it says it all.

“It is all equal, its all even. You can’t predict any match and it depends how we play on that particular match."

"Mental toughness is very important. Every player is playing to win and you can’t play at 95 per cent and expect to win.”

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