One step at a time for Kidambi Srikanth as BWF World Tour beckons

Qualifying for Tokyo Olympics is still a long way off and Srikanth wants to focus on his fitness first.

By Rahul Venkat ·

Kidambi Srikanth established himself as the next big star of Indian badminton a few years back.

He had beaten players of the calibre of Lin Dan and Viktor Axelsen, made his way to quarter-finals of Rio 2016 as the world No. 11, won a record four Super Series titles in a hugely successful 2017 and even became the first male Indian badminton player to be ranked world No. 1 in 2018.

Since then, Kidambi Srikanth’s progress has been hampered by injuries, mainly to his knee, which led to a drop in rankings. However, the shuttler is now back on track to compete with the best post the long COVID-enforced break.

“I think the lockdown has really helped me to work on my rehabilitation a lot more. I think my knee is doing really well and I am able to do good, heavy training sessions,” Srikanth said in a chat with the Olympic Channel.

“It has given me the time that I needed to be at my physical best myself before playing again.”

Kidambi Srikanth returned to competitive action at the BWF season-resuming Denmark Open in October. He was the best among Indians, reaching the quarters before falling to world No. 2 Chou Tien Chen in three games.

Srikanth is now analysing that performance to identify the areas to improve before the Asia leg of the BWF World Tour starts in Thailand next year.

“I think I can really get much better physically. So the moment I get physically fit, when I’m at a 100 per cent to play at my best, I will think about the Olympics,” added Srikanth.

“When I get to my peak, I think I definitely have a very good chance against the best players in the world.”

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Kidambi Srikanth is currently 22nd in the ‘Race to Tokyo’ rankings and has to break into the top-16 to be able to compete at his second Olympics in Tokyo next year.

He will have to take part in several tournaments to gain those crucial ranking points and move up the ladder once the BWF decides to unfreeze the rankings and Srikanth is up to the task.

“I really want to push myself as much as I can in 2021 and give my best. We’ll see what happens,” he said.

“I want to work on my fitness a lot more, cut down on the unforced errors, and be consistent. I want to hit more smashes and be aggressive because that’s my style,” Srikanth concluded.