Comeback man Kashyap wants to get his mojo back
By Amit Kumar Das
New Delhi, Feb 1 (PTI) His dislocated left shoulder still strapped with tapes, Commonwealth Games champion Parupalli Kashyap looks like a warrior battling hard to earn back his place in international badminton.
Currently world no 55, Kashyap today had to dig deep to see off compatriot Shreyansh Jaiswal 21-19 19-21 21-12 and enter the quarterfinals at the India Open, his first quarters of a major event after almost two-and-a-half years.
"I played badly today but I am happy I could pull off this match. My fitness helped me to stay in the match and it will give a much needed boost to my confidence," said Kashyap, who had reached the quarterfinals of Japan Open in September, 2015 last.
A former world no 6, Kashyap had been wrecked by a calf muscle tear, went under the knife for a knee injury, suffered a dislocation of his right shoulder, a hamstring pull and an abdominal strain -- all within two years.
"It was 2013 nationals when I had injured my left shoulder. I was playing against Srikanth. It got dislocated and ever since I had to play by strapping my shoulder. There is no pain but it pops out sometimes," says Kashyap as he changes his T-shirt soaked in sweat.
"The ligaments have become lose. I can't effort to lose another six months so I didn't go for surgery. It doesn't affect my game in anyway, so as long as it is strapped it is okay," added the 31-year-old, who finished runners-up at US Open Grand Prix Gold last year.
Kashyap had shocked world no 17 Hans-Kristian Solberg Vittinghus of Denmark in the opening round, a result that came after more than four months.
"I played Malaysia and Indonesia but I was not getting any rhythm. My body is really fit, I am training hard but I am not getting first round wins. It has been tough for me," he said.
The injuries and surgery meant he had to spend a lot of time on the sidelines, trying to heal and go through rehab even as his compatriots rose to prominence with some exceptional performances.
"It is frustrating because I have been number one for so long. I have continuously beaten these players who are performing now. Credit to them that they are playing well at big stage but knowing that I can beat them but not getting result is strange," Kashyap says.
Asked why was he not playing in the challengers to improve his ranking, Kashyap replied: "Since I am able to beat almost everyone at the academy during training, Gopi Sir told me to keep playing at Super Series. There are players like Kento Momota who came and won lower ranked tournaments and gained in confidence but then it is not my decision, it is coach's decision and I trust him.
"Also I have never played challenger tournament, so he made me play only Super Series. I remember the last time I played a challenger was at the 2009 Spanish International."
However, Kashyap will be playing at the Austrian Challenger later this month after not qualifying for the All England Championship and missing the deadline for Swiss Open.
"I can't play at All England as this week's ranking is the cut off. I am obviously not in the team for Commonwealth or Asian Badminton Championships. I missed the entries to Swiss Open so I have sent my entry for Austrian Challenger," he said.
"I wanted to play something at that time before German Open,."
He doesn't like the new qualification norm of the All England which has done away with the qualifiers.
"If you are outside the top 32, you can't enter the All England and I find it ridiculous because it is such a prestigious tournament, you can make it in Indonesia, Denmark or China but not in All England. It is like Wimbledon doesn't have qualifier," Kashyap said.
Asked about his his goal this year, he said: "I just want to win a major championship. I still want to win a world championship to get it off my mind. I had missed a medal at 2013 edition by a few points," he says with a glint of regret in his eyes.
But Kashyap says he still needs to improve his strength.
"There are a couple of things which I have to get better at to improve my strength. I am really fit now. I am fitter than before, my diets have changed. I cut off sugar and carbs. I put on fat really quickly