Praneeth for consistency over rankings

Young Bhamidipati Sai Praneeth gave ample evidence of his talent and temperament when he stunned former Olympic and world champion Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia at the recent Indonesia Super Series.

The 20-year-old followed it up with another upset victory over world no. 6 Yun Hu of Hong Kong at the recently-concluded Singapore Super Series.
Talking about his exploits, Sai Praneeth said: “The win over Taufik gave me the confidence to beat Yun. That win (over Taufik) also helped me believe in myself that I can pull off big matches.”
The two big victories helped Sai Praneeth move 16 places and achieve his career-best world ranking of 45. But the Hyderabadi shuttler said he was focusing on “giving consistent performances in the Super Series events” than the world rankings.
“Though, I am hopeful that with consistent shows I can break into the top-30.”
Recollecting that “special win” over Taufik, which spoiled the latter’s swansong, Sai Praneeth said with a smile: “He (Taufik) is a legend and since a kid I always wanted to play him. But I never thought that I will be the last one to play against him. I hope he will remember me as the one who beat him in his final match.
“I was tensed before the match. The atmosphere at the stadium was crazy, almost everyone present there was rooting for the home star. I began nervously as I was playing against a legend. I trailed initially but only until the rallies happen. Then I got into a rhythm. I also knew that Taufik was getting tired during the rallies and I was confident about my endurance,” said the two-time junior national champion, adding that “keeping Taufik away from the net area, which was his strong point, was key to his win”.
With top shuttlers like Parupalli Kashyap, R.M.V Gurusaidutt, K. Srikanth, H.S. Prannoy among his playing partners at the Gopichand Academy, Sai Praneeth said: “Training with them helped me play at the highest level. Kashyap has a lot more experience than a few of us and he gives us tip during training and before competitions.”
The youngster said that Srikanth’s victory over local top seed Boonsak Ponsana for the Thailand GP Gold title, was “a confidence booster for all the youngsters in the academy”.
“It makes us believe that we can also go out there and win. We just need to be more consistent in our games.”
Meanwhile, national coach Pullela Gopichand feels that his decision of fielding youngsters in bigger events has finally begun to bear fruit.
Lavishing praise on Sai Praneeth, the former all England champion said: “He is a talented player. I always expected him to pull off such wins... though it should have come a little early.”

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