After struggling for the last few years, Srikanth finally got his rhythm back when he claimed the World Championship silver medal at Huelva, Spain in December last but he couldn’t continue the momentum as he tested positive for COVID-19 and couldn’t participate in the India Open Super 500 and Syed Modi International.
“It was frustrating but it is something I had no control over. I wanted to play the events in India as I felt I had a very good chance to win the tournament,” said Srikanth, one of the seven Indian players who withdrew from the India Open after testing positive for the virus.
“I had mild symptoms. I was in isolation for around 10 days. Fortunately, I recovered quickly and once the test came negative, I started training immediately.”
Srikanth will start the season with the German Open Super 300 (March 8-13) before competing at the prestigious All England Championships (March 16-20) and end the tour with the Swiss Open Super 300 (March 22-27).
However, the 29-year-old said his main priority is to retain the gold he had won in 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
“The Commonwealth Games is very important for me as I am the defending champion. Asian Games is also important and in between, there is the World Championship,” said Srikanth, who is leaving for Germany on Saturday.
“This is an important year and I just want to train well and play to the best of my ability. I have a very high chance of winning gold in individuals at CWG. But I will have to be really fit and be able to train well, be match-ready before CWG and implement my plans.”
So, has he achieved the level that fetched him four titles in 2017?
“I don’t want to compare. That was a different phase. Now I am playing well. Getting better from here and being more consistent remains the aim,” he said.
A former World No. 1, Srikanth endured a difficult phase after 2018 with frequent injuries and loss of form, affecting his performance in the international circuit.
“I felt because of the injuries I couldn’t play well,” said the current World No. 11 from Guntur.
“I was trying to play well, pull out close matches, and be in the mix. I thought the whole set of events, beginning with the Sudirman Cup, I was playing well. I played 9 to 10 tournaments till the World Championships.
“I was kind of happy with my progress. It gave me that confidence. At the World Championship, I just wanted to be there, thinking about one match at a time. I just wanted to play well and not think about finals.”
A lot of youngsters such as Lee Zii Jia of Malaysia and Kunlavut Vitidsarn of Thailand have done well in the last few years, giving competition to the senior players in the circuit.
“There are some quality young players and they are doing well. But to be honest, I am only thinking about myself, just trying to improve from where I am. I have to get better and progress.”
India doesn’t have a single’s coach since the departure of Indonesia’s Agus Dwi Santoso and Srikanth said the appointment of a foreign coach will help in the season ahead.
“It is always good to have an experienced coach, someone like Mulyo Handoyo. When he was here it really helped me,” he signed off.