By Sandip Sikdar
Lucknow, Jan 27 (IANS) Chief national badminton coach Pullela Gopichand hopes his two most famous protégés — Olympic bronze medallist Saina Nehwal and World Championship bronze medallist P.V. Sindhu — play many more finals against each other like they did here at the India Grand Prix Gold.
Gopichand, who was named for the Padma Bhushan honour Saturday, was happy as Sindhu and Saina broke the Chinese domination at the India Grand Prix. Saina went on to win and end her 15-month title drought Sunday night.
“It was a good match. I hope Saina and Sindhu have many more matches like this where they play the finals against each other and it will be great to see that. Both of them played well and there were some really good rallies,” the former All-England champion told IANS Monday.
For Gopichand, the job here was done after both the girls reached the final. He preferred to stay away from the game that Saina won 21-14, 21-17. But World No.11 Sindhu did not make things easy for her fellow Hyderabadi.
“Sindhu played well but this tournament has been really good for Saina. We could see glimpses of her past form and I am happy that things have progressed for her,” said the 40-year-old on Saina, who is World No.9.
The Dronacharya Awardee also heaped praise on Kidambi Srikanth, who lost the men’s singles final to China’s Xue Song. The 20-year-old Indian had won the first game and was leading 19-12 in the second when Xue turned the tables on him.
“Srikanth showed little bit of inexperience and rawness as he did not know how to pace the game. This match was a good experience for him. He is capable of some fantastic shots but needs to stabilise. He just needs to get over that rawness and the way he has progressed, I am sure we will get there,” said Gopichand.
Gopichand was happy with Srikanth’s performance in 2013 and hoped that the youngster would carry on the momentum this year as well.
“The way he has played this whole year has been fantastic. The nationals, the Malaysia Open last week, in Indian Badminton League (IBL) and his win at Thailand Open — he has brought in consistent results, which is good. I have seen huge improvement in him in the last year,” said Gopichand.
Asked about India’s top male shuttler Parupalli Kashyap who is nursing a partially dislocated shoulder, Gopichand said the injury is giving Kashyap discomfort but he expects the World No.18 to be fine soon.
“Kashyap’s left shoulder went out of the socket. That is why he has dropped back. He is using the taping which is uncomfortable, but he will get back. Fitness wise he is okay, the rest of the body is fine and if the shoulder gets a little better, he should be okay,” said Gopichand, adding that the main focus for his players now will be the All-England Badminton Championships in Birmingham March 4-9.
(Sandip Sikdar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)