As the badminton world eagerly waits for the Destination Dubai World Superseries Finals to kick-off, a few big names not in the fray are quietly collecting ranking points and confidence at the Indonesian Masters Grand Prix Gold event. P.V.Sindhu , Tommy Sugiarto and K. Srikanth being the star names.
Badminton connoisseurs though would be closely watching how Srikanth has been faring so far. The Indian took the sporting fraternity by storm in 2014 when he rose from 44 in the rankings at the start of the year to 4 by the end. This run included a China Open title, beating Lin Dan in the final. 2015 came and he seemed to get better, winning the Swiss Open and the India Open Superseries. But there, the dream run ended.
The Awadhe Warriors player failed to get past the last 16 of any tournament since. He has consistently lost to much lower ranked players and one Tian Houwei who beat him 6 times. He seems to be plagued by a lack of confidence and the ability to close out matches. Marked for his attitude of being undaunted by big names, his star status probably put more pressure on him than he could handle. His speed and athleticism are not troubling his opponents anymore.
Srikanth has been a shadow of the man we saw in 2014. He has dropped to 9th in the rankings. His morale has taken a beating. His opponents don’t fear him anymore. With the Olympics coming up in 2016, his 25-16 win loss record this season is not a positive sign.
Now at the Indonesian Masters GPG, Srikanth is gaining lost ground. He has reached the finals and will face Tommy Sugiarto who leads their head to head 2-1. This tournament doesn’t hold particular interest as there barely have been any big names.
Srikanth hasn’t been tested till the last four where he faced Ginting Anthony, the man who beat him in the Indonesia Open earlier. His real test will be against Tommy, who has had an average season himself. But the positive in this situation is that Srikanth is back to winning. There is nothing that can give confidence like winning and the points gained are a bonus.
With PV Sindhu and HS Prannoy out, all eyes will be on Srikanth, come Sunday. Srikanth is without a doubt, India’s most gifted player. A title victory wouldn’t hurt the nation’s best hope of a medal at Rio.