Indian shuttler Kidambi Srikanth said it was irritating to lose close quarterfinals in a title-less season in 2018 and stressed on the need to get physically and mentally tougher to win medals at the World Championship and Olympic Games.

Srikanth, who had clinched four titles in 2017, lost nine quarterfinals and two semifinals while reaching the finals only once at the Commonwealth Games in the last 15 months.

“I think the series of quarterfinals are more irritating for me than losing in the first round,” Srikanth told reporters on the eve of the India Open, starting in New Delhi on Tuesday.

“I think I have been consistent against a few players and then not able to get that win against a few others at quarterfinals and semifinals, that is what I’m working on – to last the whole week.

“Probably, if I can do well in next 3-4 months before the World Championship. If I can get better physically and tougher mentally, I think I can do well at World Championship,” he added.

Srikanth had suffered a leg injury at the 2017 Senior Nationals and ever since he has been troubled by small injury woes, especially related to his ankle, which affected his performance.

“I’m working on my fitness, I had too many injuries in late 2017 and 2018 and so if I can keep working on my fitness then I will have a great chance to win titles,” he said.

“That is what worked for me in 2017, because I could sustain an hour and half hour. But 2018 and early 2019, I had some injuries and withdrew from tournaments.

“I am okay now. I had an ankle injury after playing a series of events at Malaysia, Indonesia and PBL. I’m feeling good now and I have been able to train for three weeks and I feel confident.”

Focus: Tokyo 2020

Srikanth said he just wants to focus on improving the little things and maintain his momentum to do well at the Olympics.

“I couldn’t produce the results that I wanted to but still I’m happy with my improvement. So I am in that process now,” he said.

“I’m not desperate, I just want to improve on different things, to be able to pull out crucial points in tough matches and be more consistent. All I am working on now is to do well at the Olympics. If I can hold on to the momentum and keep improving till the Olympics, I can do well there,” Srikanth added.

The 26-year-old Indian, who was briefly No 1 in 2018, said he is drawing inspiration from other top players such as Kento Momota, Shi Yuqi and Viktor Axelsen to come back into top three.

“Momota has done extremely well since coming back from ban. The last 16 months or so, he has done well. Viktor too has managed to play quarters and semifinals, Shi Yuqi also have been in top 3-4 consistently. These players are doing it consistently,” he said.

“I have been in top 8 for last few years, so I’m working on to go that extra step and be back in top 3. I have been in top 4 for a year during 2017-18. The new coaches are also helping us, though it has been just a month but the next 3-4 months will be challenging.”

Srikanth will open his India Open campaign against Wong Wing Ki Vincent of Hong Kong and is expected to face either Sameer Verma or B Sai Praneeth in the quarterfinals.

“It is a good draw. In India, you expect to play so many Indian players as not all are seeded, so we end up playing each other in the initial rounds a lot. Since we play each other so often, it will be challenging. I feel it is easier to play a foreign player than an Indian,” Srikanth said.

“So everyone is a tough opponent. I am playing Wong Wing Ki Vincent in first round. I had played him in Malaysia, it was a really close match and going forward I will only play tougher opponents.”

(With PTI inputs)