by Sudipta Biswas

After failing to make his presence felt in professional circuit in 2018, Srikanth is keen to improve his performance graph in the ongoing season. In the previous year, he held the World No. 1 ranking just for a week.

With the Yonex sponsored shuttler will celebrate his 25th birthday on February 7, he is expected to back in his mojo.

Srikanth’s below par performance in the marquee badminton tournaments in the previous year put a question mark on his form as his constant failure prompted criticism. After producing jaw-dropping performances in 2017, when he became first Indian to play three consecutive Super Series Finals in a calendar year, he failed to cope with the intensity of the game. His gold medal clinches in Indonesia Open Super Series, Australia Open Super Series and his qualification to Singapore Open Super Series final helped him to hold the unique record.

His dream run in 2017 in prestigious events continued to enthral his fans. After qualifying to three consecutive finals he won Denmark Open Super Series and French Open Super Series that saw him moving up in the rankings.

Srikanth’s phenomenal performances in the same year saw him joining the elite club of four players who won four Super Series titles in a single calendar year.

However, the year 2018 saw him struggling as chronic injuries have shaken him. Barring a gold and silver medal clinches at the Commonwealth Games 2018 in Gold Coast he failed to keep his buzzing form intact as he crumbled to the demand of the sport.

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Shedding light on his shrinking form he said his decision to play too many tournaments took a toll on his body.

Now, he is looking forward to the year 2019 with a positive mindset. He started the year with a semifinal appearance in the Malaysia Open while he failed to make last four of Indonesia Open.

“I pushed myself to chase the world rankings by playing many tournaments despite not being fully fit. This is something I will avoid now. I need to get enough time to rest and recover between tournaments. I want to limit myself to 12 Super Series events in 2019,” Srikanth said on the sidelines of a Premier Badminton League (PBL) 2019 match while playing for franchise Bengaluru Raptors.

Srikanth inability to break quarterfinal and semifinal jinxes eroded the fame that he earned a year ago. One of the key reasons behind his poor run in international tournaments was his injuries.  However, he feels much better now, and his body is in good shape that helping him to set a goal for each tournament.

In a sport like badminton, players have to learn how can they adjust crunching situations and address injury threats. Acrobatic players with a routine fitness goal, impeccable techniques and skills-set always enjoy an upper hand over their opponents.

Srikanth is a technically superior shuttler, but his injuries affected his bid to clinch a Super Series title in 2018.

“I’m much fitter now. Hopefully, I can do well in the early part of 2019 and get into the top-five of the world rankings,” Srikanth said, stressing on the importance of the ongoing calendar year as this will give him the chance to appear as an improved shuttler with many more marquee tournaments lined up.

‘2019 is going to be a crucial year for me’

The World No. 7 is preparing under the guidance of 2001 All England Championship winners Pullela Gopichand at the former’s badminton academy in Hyderabad.

The 2018 Padma Shri awardee, Srikanth, is not leaving any box vacant before the 2020 Olympic Games. He will be expected to give a yellow metal to India at world’s biggest multi-sports events.

“The 2020 Olympics is there in the big picture. To get there, I have to continuously maintain a good world ranking. And for that, I have to be consistent in 2019. In many respects, 2019 is going to be a crucial year for me,” the 25-year-old said.

There is no question on Srikanth’s technique and tenacity, but it was his injuries that left him in shamble in 2018.

Now, the birthday boy will be expected to make a strong return to the court to announce the emergence of Srikanth 2.0.

 


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