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I want to win close games against top players: Sai Praneeth

B Sai Praneeth

Mumbai : B Sai Praneeth, one of the Indian players in top 40 in world rankings, is eager to break the jinx of often losing three-game matches to top shuttlers, which has bugged him for quite some time.

“With every top player I am playing, I am losing 21-19 or 21-18 in third set. I want to break that (jinx). It may be a mental issue. In the crucial time I am a bit tense, probably I just want (desperately) to win these games. I want to win one such close match. That will boost my confidence,” Praneeth, who represents Awadhe Warriors in the Premier Badminton League (PBL), told reporters here.

Ranked 34th in the world and with four other Indian compatriots – led by world no. 9 K Srikanth – ahead of him, Praneeth does not have a great chance to book an entry to the August Rio Olympic Games.

This has not dampened his spirits and he said if he performs consistently in two or three tournaments before the Games he could still make it.

“I have little chance (to make it to Rio), but If I perform well in 2-3 tournaments with good results continuously, I have a chance. But it’s not only about the Olympics. I want to perform well in other big tournaments too,” said the 23-year-old shuttler from Hyderabad.

Saying injuries had hampered his progress in 2014, Praneeth said his goal was to win Super Series and World Championships for which he needs to become fitter than what he is currently.

“Compared to last year this season is much better. In 2014 I was injured for a long time and was not fit enough for every tournament. This year (2015) was not as bad as last year (2014). It was good and I hope it continues.

“I want to become a Super Series champion, World Champion and win big medals. (But for that to happen) I should be much more fit than what I am. That’s the only issue for me – physical fitness, not game fitness”.

He is eager to start the year well by performing to his potential in the PBL.

“After two years the PBL is back and it’s bigger than last time. This is the first tournament of the year and I wish it will be a good success and that it takes place every year. I hope to play well.

“I wish to play good and beat some top players above me which will give me confidence throughout the year.  After PBL there is the Malaysian Open and the Indian Open. If I play well here, it will boost my confidence,” said Sai Praneeth, who idolises Indonesian legend Taufik Hidayat, a man whom he beat in the ex-world and Olympic Champions’ last international game three years ago.

“Taufik Hidayat is my role model. I like his strokes, the way he plays and the results he has got. I beat him in the Indonesian open in his last match in 2013. After the match I tried to talk to him. But he was in depression as it was his last match. He’s always calm on the court, plays very silently and I like that,” Praneeth said.

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