HYDERABAD: At the start of this year, there was a lot of talk about dip in form of Indian men shuttlers. There were problems regarding players’ injury, consistency and ranking.
Even head coach Pullela Gopichand was aware of the problem. That was when Indonesian coach Mulyo Handoyo was asked to offer his services to the players. It was some time in March, before the Indian Open Super Series tournament, that the veteran coach joined the singles team. He had clear objectives in mind — to work on fitness of players and make them aggressive on the court.
Since then, there have been quite a few stellar performances by the men, including at the Singapore Open, where Kidambi Srikanth and B Sai Praneeth reached the final, with the latter winning the tournament. Come the Indonesia Open Super Series, it’s been another rock solid performance by the men.
Both Srikanth and HS Prannoy have managed to reach the semifinals of the event, and are looking good to progress to the final as well. Gopichand believes that a lot of credit goes to coach Mulyo, and his team as well.
“It’s been an absolute delight to see Prannoy and Srikanth play. Both have been terrific. A lot of credit for that goes to coach Mulyo for the results that we’re getting right now. His presence reduces the burden from my shoulders, and I can focus on individuals.
“He has brought his own methods of training that have given a boost to our players. It’s good to see that those methods are reaping benefits. It’s a welcome change,” Gopichand told Express.
Earlier on Friday, Srikanth and Prannoy registered contrasting victories over their opponents in the quarterfinals. While the former beat Chinese Taipei’s Tzu Wei Wang 21-15, 21-14, Prannoy got the better of Rio Olympics champion Chen Long 21-18, 16-21, 21-19.
Up next for Srikanth will be Korean No 1 Son Wan Ho, while Prannoy plays his semifinal against Japan’s Kazumsai Sakai. If both reach the summit clash, it’s going to be the second time in as many months that a Super Series event will see two Indian finalists.
“Till now Srikanth and Prannoy have been calm and composed on the court. They need to continue doing the good work and aim for the final. Pressure, hopefully, will not get to them,” Gopichand concluded.
Results (quarterfinals): HS Prannoy bt Chen Long (CHN) 21-18, 16-21, 21-19; K Srikanth bt Tzu Wei Wang (TPE) 21-15 21-14.