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After Hidayat's scalp, Praneeth eyes Grand Prix Gold title

June 26, 2013 17:20 IST

After Hidayat's scalp, Praneeth eyes Grand Prix Gold title

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India's up-and-coming shuttler Sai Praneeth is confident he can compete with the best in the business and emulate compatriots Parupalli Kashyap and K Srikanth in winning a Grand Prix Gold title.

Earlier this month, the 20-year-old from Hyderabad stunned two leading badminton players -- former world No 1 and Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia and world No 6 Hu Yun of Hong Kong in Indonesia and Singapore respectively --- to hit the headlines.

He attributed those recent successes to training with top Indian players like Kashyap.

"We have all the top players from India at the Gopichand Academy, so all the games we play are competitive. P Kashyap now has reached the top level. When we play against him and other top players it helps our game," said Praneeth.

"I have the confidence now that if they can win titles, then I can also win. But in tournaments there is sometimes trouble with players, so it depends on the day and match. All the players are equal in a GP gold [tournament] and I know I have the quality of winning a GP Gold. It can happen anytime," he added.


Image: Sai Praneeth
Photographs: Olympic Gold Quest

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'A dream to beat Hidayat in his backyard'

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Praneeth, who ruined Hidayat’s farewell match in Indonesia, said it was like a dream to beat a legend in his backyard.

"Before the match I was tense, because there was such a huge crowd and they were chanting his name. I started off nervously and did a lot of negatives.

“First game, I was down, but in the second my strokes were going right and I got back my rhythm. After that I got the confidence that I could win the match," Praneeth said.

"In Singapore, when I started playing qualifying, I felt I played very good. Everything was going right. I had no problems in fitness. Against Hu Yun, initially when I started, I had a big lead in the first half and I had the confidence that I could win," he added.


Image: Sai Praneeth
Photographs: Olympic Gold Quest

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'I have to be more consistent on the court'

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The performances in Indonesia and Singapore helped Praneeth rise 16 rungs to a career-best world ranking of 45, but the Hyderabad lad said though he is eyeing the top 30 next, he does not want to set any target as such.

"I have not thought about the ranking; it depends on the performance. If I can reach the quarters in a few Super Series then I will be soon in the top 30.

“I will have to sit with my coach and chart out the next tournaments which I will play," he said.

Praneeth, who will be in training over the next month, said he needs to focus on speed and strength to become more competitive.

"I have to be more consistent on the court without giving away any simple negatives and I have to work on my speed and strength."

He is looking forward to the US $1 million Indian Badminton League, which is scheduled to be held from August 14 to 31.

"I am excited to play in the IBL. It is very good for badminton. It is coming up in India. I would like to play for Hyderabad but if not, I am okay with any team," he said.


Image: Sai Praneeth with the India Club-Western Union UAE Open trophy he won in 2011
Photographs: Olympic Gold Quest

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