Srikanth, we had seen many players start their journey with this academy and they are on their own now. How long are you going to stay with this academy?
Can you name a few players who left” PV Sindhu, ok, who else. I don’t have any plans of leaving this academy.
You have reached where no Indian man had so far. Do you think you are the greatest Indian men’s singles player?
I can’t tell that I am the best. People have to tell. Personally, I feel I could do much better. If I win medal in all the big events then after I retire I may say. But I don’t want to talk about it now.
Among the Indian men’s singles players, whom do you think is the toughest for you?
I feel all are tough. Each one has an unique game style. When I play them I find it very tough. If I don’t play my best then I can’t win against anyone of them.
Who are the best in the world now?
At the moment we have Momota, Axelsen, Antonsen, Loh, Chou Tien Chou etc. But what is important in major events is you have to play exceptionally well in that one hour. If you don’t play that one hour well, your preparation will go waste. Look, no one expected Momota to lose. That one hour is quite important.
You missed very crucial years due to knee injury. Do you think you had overcome that phase?
At the moment I feel the injury phase is over. I feel confident about the way I am moving on the court. Now it will be about improvement.
Did you ever analyse why you got injured?
I got injured while I am playing. It took a lot of time to find the reason. But now I know the reason and we are careful not to get injured again.
Whom do you pick as your successors?
Lakshya is doing very well. I am watching many youngsters doing well in practice here. Priyanshu, Sai Charan Koya, Siril, Rahul there are many talented youngsters.
Having missed the gold, how are you planning for the next year’s World Championships.
Next year is a very important year. There is no time to celebrate this silver medal. From Jan 10, we have India Open, All England, then Commonwealth Games, World Championships and Asian Games. But I am happy that I really peaked at the right time. By my only focus is to maintain this and get better from here. Next eight to 10 months are very important for me.Even though I played finals, there will defnitely be some negatives. And I want to talk to Gopi anna and find out what went wrong.
Did playing a tough semifinal against Lakshya affected your performance in the final?
I don’t think so. In such a big events it is quite common to play such big matches. Again in the final I had my chances. It is not that I had lost it easily. I was leading in the first and also towards the end of the second set. But I couldn’t really control my mistakes .
What are the positives from this tournament?
I just loved the way I played. What I loved the most that I was able to be aggressive throughout the tournament. That’s is something that gave me a lot of confidence.
Were you under pressure in the final?
In a Worlds final, everyone will be under pressure. I feel I made some mistakes. But Loh played well after 18-16, he controlled his emotions, that is something I need to work on.
How tough was your semifinal against Lakshya. What was going on in your mind?
I have been watching his progress. He is playing exceptionally well. Going into the match I wanted to play well and win the match. I gave everything I got. That’s why I got tired so much. I was expecting it would be tough and I was ready for everything. But I felt Olympics is not the end of the world and I will get chances to prove myself
With the field at Worlds weak, do you think you missed the best chance to win the gold?
I don’t think it was weak. Because leaving Momota everyone played. Reaching a final, I am just happy with the way I played. I will work on this and improve.
How disappointed are you for not qualifying for the Olympics?
Actually, I was still the highest ranked player in the world. I was ranked 14 at that time and should have qualified. In the first phase of qualification I was not fit and was not able to play tournaments. But in the second phase I was fit and even reached the semifinals of Swiss Open. But the other tournaments got cancelled. You can’t help it
Do you think this medal is the best answer for all your critics?
I don’t really want to say that. All I want is prove is I am best to myself. I kept believing that I had it in me and continued working hard. I am happy that I am able to reach where I am today. I want to keep my head down and work hard. I will try and win as many more tournaments as possible.
2017 was a dream year for you and 2021 you won this. When do you think you played the best badminton?
I am playing well now compared to 2017. I had to work two to three times more than I worked in 2017.
How many more years do you think you can continue?
I don’t know. All that I know I want to work hard and will continue working hard. I’ll see, however long my body takes, I will work hard. I will play as many tournaments I can play and win as many as possible. The next four-five years I want to work hard and do well.