Mumbai: India’s badminton coach Pullela Gopichand believes that top men’s shuttler Kidambi Srikanth still has the potential to win big tournaments like the All England Championships, despite having a tough year.
After clinching four Superseries titles in 2017, fitness and injuries were a concern for the 25-year-old having fallen short of a single Superseries title despite winning silver in the men’s singles during the Commonwealth Games in Australia’s Gold Coast.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Premier Badminton League (PBL) starting here on Saturday, Gopichand opened up on the latest round of PV Sindhu-Carolina Marin rivalry among other topics.
Excerpts from the interview
Pune 7 Aces are the new team in the PBL. With the likes of Carolina Marin, how do you see them performing this year?
Lot of the teams are very evenly balanced and it is going to be a tough, competitive league. The Pune team has a star in Carolina Marin. Carolina has the ability to pull the team together in terms of performance. I think that is something which is wonderful.
Also, they have other players in the team who are very talented, whether it is the young singles player Lakshya Sen or the men’s doubles player Mathias Boe. I think they have got some good players and they have some good depth in the team. I believe it is a strong team, but also I believe that most of the teams are very well balanced.
PV Sindhu clinched the historic gold at the BWF World Tour Finals. She will face Carolina Marin in PBL’s opening match. Your thoughts on the encounter?
I think the league is a different, shorter format. This is a more aggressive kind of game with the teams and the single court making it more exciting.It will be a tough match.
After clinching the Hyderabad Open, Syed Modi International and Swiss Open, Sameer Verma reached the semifinal of the BWF World Tour Finals. How has his performance been over the past few months?
I think especially what he played at the Super Series and the World Tour Finals has been something we got to see him being really fit. He has been playing some very good badminton. I think that shows the kind of potential he has. I do expect him to bring good results in the coming years.
Kidambi Srikanth has had a tough year. How will the upcoming year be for him?
It has been a tough year for Srikanth. The top 10 players had to play a couple of tournaments which were mandatory, added to that the Commonwealth, Asian Games pressure and also he had suffered some injuries and fitness issues.
So, it made his life a little more difficult than a normal year and he has kind of had his own struggles. But, he has done well in the past few tournaments to get to the quarterfinals in some of them and also he has won a medal at the CWG. So, from my perspective I think it has been a decent year and he finished the year with a decent ranking.
You have spoken on the importance of winning the All England Championships. Given the expectations, how well do you think he will perform in a big tournament like this?
I think he is definitely a contender and hopefully his preparation goes well so that he is back stronger physically, fresh mentally for the All England and definitely he will be able to win the big events....