Hyderabad: Having created history by defeating Lin 'super' Dan of China in his own backyard at the China Open Super Series Premier, K Srikanth has revealed that he always believed in his abilities and had backed himself to go all the way against the two-time Olympic gold medallist.
Srikanth said he was determined to give his best against the five-time World champion in the men's singles final. "I believed in myself that I can. I was not overconfident but I had the confidence that I had a chance, as I was playing really well in the tournament and also, we had a few strategies for that game (against Lin Dan in the finals), which really worked for me," the 21-year-old told PTI here.
The World No. 8 Indian said he did not entertain any self doubt before the final and just wanted to fight till the end. "There was a feeling that I am playing against a big player. But, you cannot feel, when you are playing in the finals that I may not be able to beat him. I wanted to give my best. My feeling was: I have to fight out. I should not leave it till the end," Srikanth revealed.
The young shuttler said although his win against Lin Dan has raised expectations of his fans, he would not take any extra pressure. "Now, people may know that there is a player called Srikanth. When I go out, people may watch my matches. But I don't want to take this as pressure. I would just want to think that they are my well-wishers from India.
"When you go out to other country, it is good to know you have so many well-wishers back at home," said Srikanth. When pointed out that the Chinese players, who are a formidable force in world badminton, may come even more prepared to take him head-on in the future, Srikanth said he and his coach (India's chief national badminton coach Pullela Gopichand) would plan for those matches as well.
"The way they plan, we also plan. Gopi sir watches all my matches. He knows my strong points and weak points. We are also trying to develop the overall game," he said.
Srikanth, who made it to the semi-finals of Hong Kong Open, which was held soon after China Open, would be playing next in the Super Series finals scheduled to be held from December 17. This will be his first Super Series finals. Gopichand, meanwhile, heaped praise on Srikanth, saying he delivered when it mattered.
"Lot of hard work, lot of effort. He (Srikanth) was mature enough to take the pressure on, be calm and when it mattered, he delivered," said Gopichand while speaking about Srikanth's victory over Lin Dan.
Gopichand, on whose suggestion Srikanth shifted from doubles to singles, also recalled that the youngster from Guntur in Andhra Pradesh was very raw when he first joined the academy.
"He (Srikanth) is a very talented player. There is no doubt about that. The way he has taken this match, it's great. He is aggressive. He is smart on court. But when he came he was very raw. He had very little strength. We put him into a strict regimen to have his game more disciplined. The strokes, which were a little wavered, to get them back on track took a little time. But definitely it has been very productive," Gopichand said.
The coach expressed happiness over India winning both the men's and women's singles (star shuttler Saina Nehwal won the women's singles title at China Open) titles at Fuzhou.
"I think it is a huge victory to have both men's and women's singles titles. It shows that we, as a badminton nation, have grown. Hopefully, in the years to come, we will have many more victories," he said.
Asked if the present times can be described as a golden period for Indian badminton, Gopichand hoped that the future would be even better. "Till now, this is the best of what we have. The future is going to be even better," insisted Gopichand.