We can have a men's world no. 1 in a little more time, says Pullela Gopichand
What’s the story?
Pullela Gopichand, national coach of the Indian badminton team, said India has the capacity to produce a world number one in the men’s singles game in the coming future. However, he cautioned that it is a long process and will take time before the desired result is achieved.
In the last few years, we have seen Saina Nehwal reach the pinnacle of the world rankings in the women’s game while just last month, PV Sindhu attained the world number two position in the world behind Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying.
On the men’s side, there are six Indians in the top 50 of the men’s rankings and have produced a series of strong results in the recent past at major international tournaments. But there is still some way to go, according to Gopichand.
In an interview with Hindustan Times, he expressed his pleasure with the progress made so far. “As a sport, we have progressed well and that there is bench strength signifies something is being done right. To make it to the next level, we will need a little more strength physically and little more mentally,”
He added, “You had (Kidambi) Srikanth as world number three and (Parupalli) Kashyap as world number six. Now, Ajay Jayaram, Sai (Praneeth) and (HS) Prannoy too have been ranked in the top 20. But to find someone who will be a world number one, I think we will need a little more time.”
In case you didn’t know...
The men’s game has been on the rise and reached its highest point at the final of the Singapore Open last month when for the first time two Indians faced off in the final of a Super Series tournament.
The heart of the matter
In the final, Sai Praneeth mounted a spectacular comeback to lift his maiden Super Series crown. He defeated Srikanth in a tense final, winning by a 17-21 21-17 21-12 scoreline.
The top 50 of the men’s ranking features six Indian shuttlers – Ajay Jayaram, Srikant, Prannoy, Praneeth along with the two Verma brothers Saurabh and Sameer.
Yesterday, Gopichand had spoken about the rivalry between Sindhu and Nehwal as well. He said that he was fine with the rivalry as long as it pushes both players to improve their performance.
One hopes that the Indian shuttlers will continue their good form going into future tournaments and climb up higher in the world rankings.
It is hard to disagree with Gopichand’s assessment. While the progress made so far has been admirable, to produce a world number one will require a little extra and a little more time for sure.