World No.63 Anand Pawar has had a dream run over the last few weeks. After helping his club Aarhus to a bronze medal in the Elite Division of the Danish league (he beat world No.13 Jan O Jorgensen), he won the French International and then was within one win of a second successive title by reaching the final of the Dutch International. However, an injury he picked up during the semifinal put paid to his hopes, and he had to concede the final. The Denmark-based Pawar speaks to Dev S Sukumar of Sportskeeda about his recent run of form:
Your thoughts on conceding the Dutch International final? It must’ve been disappointing not to contest for your second straight international title…
It was definitely disappointing not being able to play in a final especially since it was my second one in two weeks and also after winning some good matches in the earlier rounds. I have been playing well and it was a good opportunity to try and win another tournament.
You won two long matches on Saturday… it must’ve been physically draining, but how did you pull through?
Both the matches on Saturday (quarters and semis) were three setters which took a lot out of me at the end of the day but I was feeling okay with my physical condition apart from my abdomen area which had become sore after the match.
Is this the best shape you’ve been in, or do you believe you can get better?
I think I this is one of the best I have been physically but I can definitely get much better if I work at my game and physical condition for more than three weeks in a row, like I did in the beginning of March.
What was it like to beat Jan O Jorgensen and ensure a bronze medal for Aarhus in the Denmark league? How was the reaction of the fans, and how did they treat you after the win?
Winning the bronze medal for my club Aarhus AB was fantastic considering it was our debut in the Elite Division and to finish third was never expected. Of course, beating Jan Ø felt great and the fans and my team were thrilled and also surprised with the victory as nobody expected it considering the kind of form he has been in of late. A Golden Set was expected with the scores tied at 3-3 but I managed to win my singles and get the 4-1 win for us.
Could you tell us your relationship with Arhus now, considering you’ve been based there for a long time. Do you feel like a Danish citizen now?
Arhus has become like a second home to me now. It’s a lovely city and I’m happy that I’m accepted by the people there as one of their own. I have been there for almost five years now and maybe another year next season. Although if I had to settle down, there would be no other place but Mumbai. :)
Any particular reasons for this recent run of form you’ve had?
I took a break from tournaments for three weeks after the German Grand Prix Gold and decided to work a lot on my physical condition and make myself physically fit for the three tournaments which I had planned to play towards the end of the month. After my injury in October last year , I didn’t get much time to really work on my fitness so I took some time off from tournaments and I guess it paid off with the good results in these last three tournaments. I was training with my father at the Uday Pawar Badminton Academy which has now moved to the Goregaon Sports Club in Mumbai.
Do you feel a bit disappointed that, being based in Denmark, your wins don’t always make it to the sports pages in India?
Yes, it is a bit disappointing that sometimes there isn’t much coverage but being so far away is probably one of the main reasons for the lack of communication. It would be good for the press to cover the results and performance of the Indian players abroad. It’s important for sponsors who are willing to support athletes to know about what’s happening and the results of all the tournaments abroad so they can come forward and support us.
How do you evaluate your career at this stage? How are you planning the next few years and what are your goals?
I think I’ve done well so far. I suffered two serious injuries at crucial stages of my career which put me on the back foot and I had to work again from scratch to build up form which takes time after a long layoff from injury. Every athlete has to go through these injury phases and it’s part of what we do, so at the end of the day I feel at this stage of my career it’s important for me to stay physically fit and injury free and make the most of every opportunity I get. I don’t have a sponsor as yet so I hope that I can find one which makes it easier to travel and play more tournaments.