Srikanth: ‘Thankful to Bengaluru, will love to pay back’

Kidambi Srikanth was bought for Rs 80 lakh by Bengaluru Raptors in the auction that took place in New Delhi.

Kidambi Srikanth had won four Super Series titles last year but hasn’t found his mojo in big events, barring the Commonwealth Games, this year.   -  AFP

Former World No. 1 shuttler Kidambi Srikanth, picked by Bengaluru Raptors for Rs. 80 lakh in the Premier Badminton League (PBL) auction, is eager to pay back the franchise in every possible way in the upcoming edition of the league.

The 25-year-old top player also termed PBL, whose fourth season would begin here on December 22, as a great experience. “I am really thankful to Bengaluru for putting so much of confidence in me and buying me back. I would love to pay back in every way I can.

“It (PBL) is a great experience. We don’t really get to play too many team events and PBL is something where you get to interact with players of different countries.

“It’s a whole new experience and always fun to interact with different people,” the Guntur-born Srikanth told PTI.

Srikanth, who won an individual silver medal in the Commonwealth Games, is now geared up for the Denmark Open, which begins on October 16. “I really want to do well (in the Denmark Open). Every time I go to a tournament, I want to do well, give my best.

Read: Premier Badminton League auctions

“I haven’t set any target, its more about doing well,” the shuttler said.

Srikanth is now associated with Red Bull and expressed joy over the association.

Last year Srikanth had won four Super Series titles, but this year he hasn’t found his mojo in big events, barring the Commonwealth Games held in April this year.

His dream of winning a medal in the World Championship also went up in smoke following his defeat to Malaysian Daren Liew.

Srikanth was knocked out of the 18th Asian Games after suffering a shock defeat in the second round of the men’s singles competition.

Asked how he would rate the year so far, Srikanth said, “2017 had been a great year for me. 2018 also is not a bad year. “I have done really well, got my first-ever Commonwealth Games individual medal and first-ever gold medal for the team. I have done well at the Super Series level and am still there in the top eight.”

“So I don’t have any regrets, could have (been) a little better, but really happy with the way it has been. I never gave up at any moment and am working hard. Even if I lost. Ill continue doing it,” he said.

Srikanth said the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was on the back of his mind and pointed out the qualification stage was some distance away. “I have the (2020) Olympics on my mind, but it is not that I have started my preparations for it, because I have a good number of tournaments even before the qualification period starts.

“So I want to be there consistently in top four, top six and I don’t want to run behind the rankings.”

The badminton ace praised his coach Pullela Gopichand for being supportive. “He (Gopi Sir) is definitely one who has always been supportive to me and he is always there for me, every-time I won or lost,” he added.

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