Even the buzz around Saina Nehwal won't hide the fact that barring Prakash Padukone and Pullela Gopi Chand, India has been poor performers at the world badminton championship. Till 2007 that is.
Then, Anup Sridhar changed the way the world would look at the Indian contingent by storming into the quarterfinals of the 2007 championship in Kuala Lumpur beating former champion Taufik Hidayat and 2003 All England champion Mohd Hafiz Hashim. He lost to eventual champion Lin Dan of China.
This is the next edition of the competition because it isn't held in an Olympic year. But the 26-year-old failed to make the cut this time after a spate of injuries kept him out of action for almost two months since the Beijing Olympics.
The two-time national champion spoke to HT about his campaign in the last edition, the Saina factor and his predictions for this time.
Reconstruct that week in 2007 for us.
It was undoubtedly the best performance in a week for me. I had gone into the tournament without much expectation. I knew it was a tough draw. But if you want to get to the business end of a tournament, you will run into top players sooner or later and I was geared up to do my best against them.
Take us through the two major upsets.
I had lost to Taufik twice before and had learnt a lot from them. Also, having Gopi Chand (national coach) sitting behind me made a lot of difference since he knew Taufik's game very well. Once I had beaten Taufik, I was very confident against Hafiz and that made the ultimate difference since I could hold my nerves on crucial points.
Do you think the outlook of the badminton powerhouses towards India changed since?
It did contribute somewhere. But I will say the major credit for this should go to Saina (Nehwal). After Gopi there was no one who could follow in his footsteps for a few years. It began with Chetan (Anand).
He showed promise but lacked consistency and the results were not coming at the big stage for anyone of us.
Things began to change with Saina's Philippine Open title. She did not care for reputations and that began to rub off on all other players.
Then me, Chetan and Aravind (Bhat) also got some good results and now every Indian player believes that he or she can take on the best in the world.
You won't be playing this year. But how do you look at India's chances?
Saina obviously is our best bet. But in men’s singles, I do expect Chetan and Aravind to spring a few surprises.
Do you think the expectation to at least emulate you could pressure them?
It depends on how they look at it. Positively they can say that someone has done it before and they too can do it.
I have interacted with all of them (P. Kashyap being the third player) and they are geared up for a good
And finally, your prediction for the championship?
I guess in the men's singles it would be Lee Chong Wei (Malaysia), unless Lin Dan is back in form. In that case he is a definitely the favourite.