Gearing up for his first Olympics this August, world No 12 Kidambi Srikanth is keen to make it memorable. “I am happy to have qualified, would have been happier had I been among the top eight. My aim is to take part in the Indonesian and Australian Open and improve my ranking,” said Srikanth on Saturday.
Srikanth, who has bagged the South Asian Games gold and won the Syed Modi tournament, is the only Indian shuttler to qualify for men’s singles in Rio. The 23-year-old’s effort at improving his ranking is to try and get an easier draw in Rio.
“There will be 16 seeds and those from five to eight will play the top four seeds in the quarters, while those seeded from nine to 16 will face them in the pre-quarters. So that’s why it’s important,” said the Hyderabad boy, who will be skipping the Thomas Cup, which begins on May 15.
“I’m not playing the Thomas Cup because I need to be at my best for the Indonesian and Australian Open as they are Super Series events. After the hectic schedule, I will take a break to train and prepare for the Olympics,” said the Roger Federer fan, who hopes to meet him in the Olympic Village.
“Getting an Olympic medal is the ultimate dream of any sportsperson. If that happens, it will be the crowning achievement of my career. For that to happen, I have to match my opponent on the court, not just try my best,” said the Guntur-born player.
With the likes of Chen Long, Lee Chong Wei and Lin Dan in contention for gold, Srikanth has his task cut out.
“The top 20 are at the same level and it depends on who is mentally strong and plays with a better strategy. It’s always tough to play these three players. They have so much experience, have played in these tournaments before and know how to handle pressure. We need to believe in ourselves as all three have lost as well,” said the shuttler, who trains at the Gopichand Academy in Hyderabad.
Srikanth aims to stay focused on being fit for Rio and not overdo things. “I want to keep my body fit. I have three-and-a-half weeks’ break. It’s a very good time – to rest and train – as in the last four-six months I never got four weeks of training. I am thinking of physical workout to stay fit for the Olympics. We will go to Rio 10 days before the tournament to prepare for the conditions there.”
One of the things he is focusing on is finishing off matches.
“My attacking style is one of my biggest strengths. In the last five matches, I lost two in close finishes. I need to find out a way to pull out these close matches,” said Srikanth.