Kidambi Srikanth credited his fine run in the Superseries this year to a change in mindset toward playing long matches and insisted that he was not going to think about winning or losing when he plays the final on Sunday.
Srikanth booked his place in a Superseries final for a fifth time in 2017 with a 14-21, 21-19, 21-18 win over compatriot HS Prannoy in an hour and two minutes in Paris on Saturday and would start as favourite to add to his three Superseries titles this year when he faces qualifier Kenta Nishimoto in the final. “I think I am feeling tired now. Just one more match left, I wish I can recover before tomorrow’s game,” Srikanth told reporters after the semi-final.
Fortunes have changed for Srikanth after the arrival of Indonesian coach Mulyo Handoyo at the national camp. When asked about the difference the mentor of former Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat had made, Srikanth said, “I think it’s the kind of mindset we have these days. We are not really scared of playing longer matches. That gives us the edge. Earlier, when you were playing the Chinese, you had to be prepared to play longer matches. But now we are physically there.”
Handoyo had tweaked the training system of the top players since his arrival in February this year with focus on longer sessions to prepare them for long matches. This has helped the players bounce back in big matches and Srikanth once again showed those qualities as he came back from a game down against Prannoy.
Speaking about the semi-final encounter, Srikanth admitted that the match could have gone either way and he was lucky to win crucial points from 18-18 in the second and third game to close out the match. “It’s always tricky to play with fellow player with whom you train 365 days a year. Today, both of us played really well. In both the games, it was 18-18 and I got three points. Till then he was playing really well,” Srikanth added.
Prannoy admitted that he was disappointed with the result but felt satisfied with his overall performance in the tournament, and even in the semi-final. “I don’t think I played any wrong strokes or did anything wrong. He took the chances at the end and it came good. In the third game, I was surprised with some of his strokes. The shuttles were very fast it was difficult to get the first return to the back line. So just wanted to hit down and he took chances with the drives and came good.
“We play each other every day in practice and the one who executes well wins. That’s what he did,” Prannoy added.