K Srikanth has been one of the most improved Indian men shuttlers in 2014. The Guntur-born shuttler surpassed Parupalli Kashyap as the country’s top ranked men’s singles player this year after having starting the year with a ranking of 47. Srikanth, who trains at the Hyderabad-based Gopichand Badminton Academy spokein an exclusive interview.
Q How does it feel to be the country’s top-ranked men’s singles player?
There's nothing like country's top ranked player; there will always be ups and downs in ranking, but what actually matters how you are performing at the international level.
Q You started the year with a ranking of 47 and soon broke into the top-20 and now you are now perched at 16. What were your plans at the start of the year?
When I started the year being at 47, I wanted to be in the top-20 by the end of the year but since I have already attained a ranking of 16 I now want to break into the top-10. I came close to achieving that in April when I was ranked 13 but couldn't, so now I want to break into the top-10.
Q Parupalli Kashyap has been the country’s top-ranked men’s singles player for a long time. You must be pleased to have surpassed him.
He's been playing in the international circuit for a very long time and he was consistently maintaining his rank in top-25 for many years. Being a junior to him I saw many of his matches on television and now being the top ranked player after surpassing him I feel really good for that, but as I told you my earlier performance matters every time than rankings, so I want to continue performing well on the international circuit.
Q How would you assess your performance graph this year?
This year I've played few very good matches but then I lost a few matches where I should have won, that's little depressing but then overall I’m happy with the way I played.
Q You have played against the likes of Lee Chong Wei, Chen Long, Tommy Sugiarto among others this year. What have you learned by playing against these top-notch shuttlers?
There's always a lot to learn from the top players and playing against them helps me understand my game. It tells me the areas where I’m strong and the areas where I’m weak.
Q Tactically, which are the areas you need to work on if you are to regularly beat the top guys?
For me I've lost quite a few close games even with few top players so I want to improve accuracy in my strokes and consistency.
Q As many as five Indian shuttlers are ranked among the top-50 – do you feel that Indian shuttlers can really dominate world badminton in the years to come?
Yup definitely there is a chance with the way Indian shuttlers are performing at the international level.
Q Which win will you rate as your best in 2014?
The quarter final match at the Singapore Open after which I played my first Super Series semifinal.
Q Do you believe that enough talent is coming through in Indian badminton?
Yes definitely. The BAI is also doing really well conducting enough national ranking tournaments , national camps and the IBl last year was really a very good initiative and after which the sport really grabbed the public attention like never before.
Q What goals have you lined up for the future?
I’m currently playing in two Super Series tournaments this month and I’m keen to perform well in both these events.