Interview with HS Prannoy: "Playing in World Championships my main focus"
HS Prannoy has been one of the success stories of Indian badminton in recent times. The 22-year-old, who is ranked number 15 in the world, is grappling with a prolonged foot injury, which forced him to miss the recently-held Sudirman Cup. The Kerala lad, who had won the Tata Open in Mumbai last December, has now set his sights on the World Championships to be held in Jakarta in August. The soft-spoken shuttler spoke about his foot injury and much more in an exclusive interview.
Q How frustrating it is to be laid low by injuries given the fact that you have been churning out eye-catching performances over the last six months, including a title win at the Tata Open last December?
Well, it can be frustrating at times but as a sportsman you have to accept that injuries are going to be part and parcel of life. I am out of action for six weeks – I was in the team for the Sudirman Cup but had to miss it owing to my foot injury on my left toe. I also had to miss the Australian and Indonesian Open tourneys along with the Sudirman Cup. As for now, I have my toe plastered and can’t train for at least two weeks.
Q Given this prolonged spell of injury, how sooner can you realistically think of making your international comeback?
I don’t think I will be playing in any tourneys until mid-July. I may play in the China and Russian Open events, followed by the World Championships in August. I will be training hard in the month of June and hopefully get better in the subsequent month. Playing in the World Championships will be my main focus. Keeping fingers crossed for now.
Q You had twice upset world number two Jan Jorgensen of Denmark first at the Singapore Open and at the Sunrise Indian Open.
It is satisfying beating a top player like Jan. He plays an attacking game like me and I believe he is not comfortable with my game. At the Singapore Open, I had it easy winning in straight games, while at the Sunrise Indian Open, it was a close affair.
Q The 2016 Rio Olympics is just more than a year away. With your world ranking of 15, do you feel you stand a good chance of playing in the big-ticket event?
I won’t to look that far. As per the rules the top two ranked singles players in the top-15 represent the country at the Olympics and the cut-off date for that is May 1, 2016. So in a year’s time a lot can happen and I don’t want to think of whether I will make the cut for the Olympics right now.
Q The non-holding of the Indian Badminton League since 2013 must be a disappointment for Indian badminton at large.
Well, it is actually. I don’t think the IBL will be held this year. But I really hope the IBL is staged next year as the league has done a world of good to Indian badminton.
Q As a player what do you think will be your improvement areas?
I’m an attacking player and would like to work on my strokes. More importantly, I want to improve my fitness because it is this aspect which will stand me in good stead in tough, energy-sapping games.
Q When you look at the top shuttlers from China, Denmark, Korea, Japan, Indonesia and Malaysia, where do you think our Indian shuttlers stand?
I believe Indian shuttlers are coming up in leaps and bounds and there is little doubt about that as the country has been having 6-7 players in the top-50. Our guys need to up their fitness levels – why I say this is because in long, three game affairs against the likes of Lin Dan or Lee Chong Wei, it is imperative to have the same intensity in all three games. At times, I feel we are up there in the first two games, but are sapped of energy in the decider playing against the top guys.
Q Do you think the game of badminton has changed over the years?
Not much tactically, but yes rallies have got longer than before and the game has slowed down. Earlier, a match used to take 45 minutes to finish, nowadays a three-game affair easily takes an hour or so to finish.