World No 3 Kidambi Srikanth said that he skipped a few tournaments last year to be fit for the upcoming Commonwealth Games.
“For me, winning a medal at the Commonwealth and Asian Games is more important,” said Srikanth. “If I wanted to be world No 1 and not win tournaments (CWG or Asian Games), I would have pushed myself to play China and Hong Kong Open last year after the French Open.”
“And the kind of form I was in, I would have managed to play quarter-finals in both the events and I would have went on to become world No 1 but I wanted to win tournaments rather than think about rankings. So I opted out of those tournaments and gave my body extra time to recover from injury,” Srikanth said at the India Today Conclave.
“I don’t want to play a quarterfinal of a tournament and become world No 1. I want to win the tournament and be World No 1,” he said.
‘The field is now more open’
The competition among the countries is now more open compared to the bygone era of Chinese domination, he reckoned.
“China has been the dominating force at the Beijing Olympics (2008) and London Olympics (2012). They won all the five gold medals (men’s singles and doubles, women’s singles and doubles, mixed doubles) but now the field is more open.”
“If you seen in top men’ singles, at the top you have Viktor (Axelsen) from Denmark, second is Lee Chong Wei, who is from Malaysia, I am at number 3 while China’s Chen Long is ranked four. So there are four different people representing four different countries in the top four,” he said.
Srikanth feels that India has already emerged as a strong force with five men’s singles players in the top-20.
“I would say European nations are doing well and we are the only nation (India) to have five men’s singles player in top 20,” Srikanth said.
When asked about his remarkable calmness in tense moments of a match, Srikanth said: “I have learned the hard way, lost the matches. In the decider in the third set, I have lost the (2016) Olympics quarterfinal closely, with just a point and I think all that I learned from the Olympics worked for me last year.”
All England in sights
Srikanth, who won four Super Series titles last year, is yet to win the coveted All England Championships or an Olympic medal.
“The All England is one of the biggest events because it has history of 100 years attached to it. I would say winning these tournaments, will definitely give the player a legendary status,” he said.
Asked whether he receives added motivation from former champion Gopichand to win the All England title, Srikanth said, “It’s not just about All England. For my every victory, the whole credit goes to him. I would love to have him there, sitting there, as my coach if I get to win the All England.”