MUMBAI: ‘Fight like a girl’, had become quite a mantra in Indian sport since the Rio Olympics. But it is two women in particular — PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal — that Kidambi Srikanth would like to learn from. “I think we could all learn from them. Their fighting spirit is what gives them the edge,” said the 25-year-old, on the sidelines of the Premier Badminton League in Mumbai. “It is because of their attitude that they have been so consistent.”
Saina won the women’s singles gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Sindhu reached the finals at the World Championships and then claimed the biggest title of her career by winning the season-ending BWF World Tour Finals against Nozomi Okuhara in China.Srikanth, who is playing for Bengaluru Raptors in the League, struggled to rekindle the form of 2017 this year. Having won an impressive four Super Series titles and emerging as the lead man of Indian badminton last year, he found it difficult to keep pace in 2018.
“It hasn’t been a bad year. It’s definitely not as great as 2017. But I’d say there was a lot to learn this year. You can’t expect every year to be like 2017,” said Srikanth.“This year, I’ve made a few easy matches tough,” he said, one of them being the 21-19, 16-21, 18-21 loss to Korea’s Lee Dong Keun in the quarterfinals of the Japan Open. “It is difficult to lose 21-18 in the third after you have played such a long match (1 hour 18 minutes). But I got sweet revenge on him at the French Open (won 12-21, 21-16, 21-18 in second round). I’m always happy to finish in straight sets, but I’m learning other lessons. The moment you feel you are under pressure, there’s no way you can excel. I have to be more consistent and patient going forward.”
The year had started with promise for Srikanth as he played a vital role in India winning a gold at the team event at the Commonwealth Games. He defeated Lee Chong Wei 21-17, 21-14 to help India beat Malaysia 3-1 in the team finals.“That was great,” he said. “We hadn’t had any great wins at team events till then. Winning the first match, the mixed doubles through Ashwini (Ponnappa) and Satwik (Rankireddy), really motivated the whole team.” He also picked up a silver in men’s singles at CWG.
Srikanth ticked one more box when he made the top spot in world rankings in April. “Everyone dreams of it. I definitely dreamt of it,” he said after finishing the year at No 8. “But then I realised it feels nothing different fromnow! It’s just that it’s not my target any more, I’ve achieved it. Now I want titles and medals.”That will be the goal, doing well and playing more consistently for bigger events, as every step now eventually leads to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.Monday result (PBL): Awadhe Warriors bt Pune 7 Aces 4-3.