Monday, February 16, 2015

Interview: I don't fear losing: with HS Prannoy

Indian badminton has been growing in stature over the years, with a slew of players making their opponents worldwide sit up and take notice of them. HS Prannoy is another shuttler, who has been sedately clambering up the performance ladder with a string of impressive performances over the past few months.

The 22-year-old Kerala lad is on a ‘high’ having won the recent Tata Open in Mumbai. Prannoy has been in resounding form, having earlier racked up his maiden singles crown at the Indonesian Masters in September last year, following a semifinal finish at the Vietnam Open.

Prannoy, currently ranked 21 in the world, spoke  in an exclusive interview.

Q You had finished runners-up at the 2013 Tata Open going down to Saurabh Varma, but must be chuffed going one better this time around defeating MRV Gurusaidutt in the final?

Yeah it was really great winning the Tata open this time. It was a good tournament for me as I could beat so many good Indian players.

Q You started 2014 on a strong note reaching the semifinals of the India Grand Prix Gold tourney and then had a modest run of results, but you really took off in the second half of the year with a runners-up finish at the Vietnam Open followed by your maiden singles win at the Indonesian Masters?

I think I played really well throughout 2014, but the results started coming in the second half with Vietnam and Indonesia tourneys and so many good tournaments followed by that. I think it was just because I started played much more confidently in the second half of 2014.

Q How would you assess your maiden singles triumph in the Indonesian Masters?

It was a must-needed win for me in Indonesia as a singles crown win was long due for me. I was disappointed after losing in the final of the Vietnam Open, but after that I went on to win the Indonesian Open the next week, which was really good.

Q You started the year 2014 with a ranking of around 49 and now you are perched at 21 – the country’s third highest singles player – to which single factor would you attribute your ranking leap in the last twelve months?

I think I have become more consistent now and the one factor is my confidence level, which has really gone up and I don’t have any fear of losing, which has made me to play much freely

Q You have been training at the Gopichand Badminton Academy since 2011 – how do you rate him as a coach?

As far I’m concerned he is the best coach. After coming to the academy I have improved my game so much and it's all because of his changes in training. Gopi Sir really knows what's going in the world badminton and keeps changing the training accordingly. That's the best part of him.

Q There is a feeling that you have been around for some time, but hasn’t quite lived up to his promise. Do you think you are in the best form of your life and your current run will enhance the impression that you are all set to realize your immense potential.

I know success does not come so easily and I’m one of them, who had to wait for quite some time and I guess now I’m playing really well and maybe in my best form. And maybe I can play much better in the coming days.

Q Who according to you is the toughest player to beat and why?

Among the current lot I guess Chen Long is one of the toughest players to beat because if you get your strategy wrong against him it's tough to play. He is very fit and strong and it's pretty tough to penetrate him without a correct strategy.

Q How do you look assess the current health of Indian badminton?

Indian badminton is looking really great as of now. We have so many good results coming our way in last 2-3 years. (Kidambi) Srikanth, (Parupalli) Kashyap, (Nehwal) Saina, (PV) Sindhu all are at their top and have been winning so many tournaments. So this is one of the best periods of Indian badminton.

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