World Championships bronze medallist Lakshya Sen says he will look to build on his rich vein of form and return with a maiden title when he begins the new season with a debut appearance at the India Open Super 500 here on Tuesday.
The 20-year-old from Almora had a good outing in the last season as he reached the final of the Dutch Open, made it to the semifinals at Hylo, and then entered the knockout stage of the World Tour Finals on debut.
However, the icing on the cake was his bronze at the World Championships, which helped him to emulate his mentor Prakash Padukone and compatriot B Sai Praneeth.
"This is the first time I will be playing the India Open as the last two editions were cancelled due to the pandemic. So I am looking forward to making the most of this opportunity and win the title," Sen told PTI after arriving in the national capital.
"I had a 10-day break after the world championships and started training from January 1st. I had some niggles but now I am back to full fitness."
Walking down memory lane, Sen talking about the time when he would come as a fan to watch greats such as Lin Dan and Taufik Hidatay compete in the tournament.
"I remember coming to India Open as a 10-year-old in 2011-12. I was inspired a lot by Lin Dan and Taufik Hidayat. I have always loved Taufik's game, it influence me a lot."
Sen will open his campaign against Egypt's Adham Hatem Elgamal and a win will pit him against Sweden's Felix Burestedt in the next round.
"I have a good draw. In the first round, I am playing a player from Egypt and in next round, it will be Felix. I had trained with him in Dubai.
"I will take one match at a time and the way I am playing, I am confident of winning the tournament."
The year will be a hectic one with big-ticket events such as the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games lined up, apart from the regular BWF World Tour events.
Sen said his entire focus will be to stay injury-free and peak at the right time.
"It is an important year as there are lots of important tournaments lined up. I have to come up with a proper training plan ahead of these important events, also pick and choose events," the world number 17 said.
"I have to perform well so that I can qualify for important events. So the focus will be on staying injury free and peaking at the right moment."
Organised by the Badminton Association of India (BAI), the India Open is all set to kick off on Tuesday at the Indira Gandhi Stadium's KD Jadhav Indoor Hall.
Most players have started arriving in the capital for the tournament.
"All the participating players will be taking the necessary safety precautions right from their arrival in New Delhi as per protocol, and will be tested everyday at the hotel and from there they will be having shuttle buses to come to the stadium, play matches and go back to the hotel again," the BAI said in a release.