Prannoy H.S., by reaching the 2016 Swiss Open Grand Prix Gold, kept our hopes alive as he was the only Indian to reach the title clash. And he didn’t disappoint. The shuttler, who hails from Kerala, has been training in Hyderabad for the past seven years.
Says 23-year-old Prannoy, “The Swiss Open win came at the right time. Quite a few tournaments are coming up and it was important for me to win something big to get my confidence back before I play matches. This win also pushed my World ranking to 20 from 27. I played the last few tournaments well but couldn’t go beyond pre-quarterfinals or the first round. It was quite disappointing.”
Prannoy had last clinched the Indonesia Open Grand Prix Gold in 2014. This win comes after one-and-a-half years. “I don’t think there was much of a gap. Winning a Grand Prix Gold event during Rio Olympics qualification period is very tough. The level of competition is very high as all the players are trying to qualify. Also, after winning the title in August 2014, I lost six months to injury so I would consider it just a one year gap and winning a second title in a year is good,” he says.
About qualifying for the Rio Olympics, Prannoy says, “I have a very narrow chance to qualify for Rio so I am not really looking forward to that. When I play at the India Open 2016 Superseries (his first match was on Wednesday), I will take one match at a time and not think much about the end result. When you set a certain goal before the match, you are putting added pressure on yourself to achieve it.”
Other Indian badminton men’s singles players like Kidambi Srikanth and Parupalli Kashyap have been doing well too and are ranked above him. Where does Prannoy stack himself?
“K. Srikanth has been maintaining the top 10 ranking for so long, which is really tough. So he should get a lot of credit for that. As far as Kashyap is concerned, he was playing well before he got a couple of injuries. After an injury, it is really tough to come back. I have been experiencing it over the last two to three years. It takes more time than usual as your confidence level goes down and you need to win a lot of matches before you get back to your normal game. Considering my current form, Kashyap might be ranked above me but if I play well in the next four months, I might be able to get into the top 15,” he says.
Through the ups and downs of his career, his coach Pullela Gopichand has been a driving force and a support system, says Prannoy. “He was really happy after the win. I don’t think that before the final, he expected me to win. We didn’t speak about strategies. We all have been performing well but we were not able to clinch any title in six months. So he was happy that the title came back to our country. Srikanth won the Swiss Open last year and I regained the title this year. But quite frankly, even I didn’t expect to win. For the last few months, I wasn’t winning crucial matches. But after the semifinal win, I was really confident about winning the title.”...