Former All England champion Prakash Padukone on Saturday tipped PV Sindhu to be the world number one in the near future, but Saina Nehwal’s coach Vimal Kumar was of the view that both the Olympic medallists could dominate world badminton in the next 5-7 years.
While Saina became the first Indian shuttler to win an Olympic medal - a bronze - at 2012 London Olympics, Sindhu did one better by winning a historic silver at the Rio Games this year.
“Definitely, Sindhu is capable of reaching the number one place,” Padukone told reporters at the Olympic Gold Quest workshop for junior athletes here.
However, Vimal had a different view.
“I cannot comment on that (whether Sindhu can race past Saina en route the number one position). Yes, Sindhu would be a good competition for Saina. In the next five to six years, they are both likely to dominate the world badminton.”
Vimal is happy that Saina’s leg is holding up.
“If she can continue that then she can be back to her winning ways. She can look at winning big tournaments again. That is what I am looking at now,” he said.
Speaking about PV Sindhu, Padukone said that if the shuttler and her coach Pullela Gopichand keep enough gap between tournaments, the Hyderabad-based player could reach number one position.
“It depends on Gopi and her decisions. If they plan the year with proper rest and training, and keep enough gap between tournaments, it is a matter of time before she reaches number one in women’s singles,” he said.
Padukone said Sindhu has the potential as she is young and has at least six years of good badminton left in her.
“Definitely, she has the potential because she is young. She, at least, has five to six years of good badminton. She has beaten all the players,” he said.
Padukone said Sindhu looks quite a different player since Rio Olympics as she is well prepared with six to seven weeks rest.
“I think she looks confident, and has been a different player since Olympics, and one of the reasons I presume is the way they (Sindhu and Gopi) prepared, because six to seven weeks she did not play any tournaments, so they were able to prepare exactly they wanted,” he said.
“She was well prepared and there was no pressure (on her prior to Olympics) because she hadn’t done that well before Olympics. Therefore, she played freely,” he said.