New Delhi: One of India`s most promising shuttlers, Sai Praneeth feels he has the quality to compete with the best in the business and emulate compatriots Parupalli Kashyap and K Srikanth in winning a Grand Prix Gold title.
In a week`s time, Praneeth stunned two top players -- former World number one and Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia and world number six Hu Yun of Hong Kong in Indonesia and Singapore, respectively.
Praneeth said it was the training against the top Indian players like Kashyap that has helped him to compete at the highest level.
"We have all the top players from India in Gopichand academy, so all the games we play are competitive. P Kashyap now has reached top level. When we play against him and other top players it helps our game," Praneeth told PTI.
"I have the confidence now that if they can win titles then I can also win. But in tournaments, there are sometimes troubles with players so it depends on the day and match. All the players are equal in a GP gold and I know I have the quality of winning a GP Gold. It can happen anytime," he added.
Praneeth had spoilt Taufik`s farewell match and the Indian says it was like a dream to beat a legend at his own backyard.
"Before the match, I was tensed because there was such a huge crowd and they were chanting his name. I started off nervously and did a lot of negatives. So first game I was down but in the second game my strokes were going right and I got back my rhythm. After that I got the confidence that I can win this match," Praneeth said.
"In Singapore, when I started playing qualifying, I felt I played very good. Everything was going right. I had no problems in fitness. Against Hu Yun, initially when I started I had a big lead in the first half and I had the confidence that I can win," he added.
The performance in Indonesia and Singapore saw Praneeth jump 16 places to a career-best ranking of 45 in the world but the Hyderabad lad said though he is eyeing the top 30 next, he doesn`t want to set any target as such.
"I have not thought about the ranking. It depends on the performance. If I can reach quarters in a few super series then I will be soon in top 30. I will have to sit with my coach and chart out the next tournaments which I will play," he said.
The 20-year-old will be training for the next one month and Praneeth said he needs to focus on his speed and strength to become more competitive.
"I have to be more consistent on the court without giving away any simple negatives and I have to work on my speed and strength," he said.
Praneeth is also looking forward to the USD 1-million Indian Badminton League which is scheduled to be held from August 14 to 31.
"I am excited to play in the IBL. It is very good for badminton. It is coming up in India. I would like to play for Hyderabad but if not, I am okay with any team," he said.
We're building him (RvP) up now because of the World Cup. It’s a pity but we have to or he’ll never be fit.
Louis van Gaal