Parupalli Kashyap tells G Krishnan how intensely badminton is played in India and why it is such a demanding sport.
How are the preparations for the upcoming All England Championships?
I had four weeks’ time after playing the last tournament in January. There has not been any drastic change in my training. It’s just that I have fine-tuned whatever I have done in the last six months.
You must be keen to cross the first hurdle after first round exits in the 2011 and 2012 All England.
That is there at the back of my mind (smiles). But my form has changed of late. I’m not really worried about what is going to happen. Whatever I’ve acquired while training, I want to use it on court.
What does it mean to play in All England?
It has always been a very big tournament, especially for the Chinese. Guys above 50 don’t normally get to play in this draw of 32 (28 plus four qualifying). If anyone withdraws, then some get lucky to participate. You get noticed if you do well in All England than in the other Super Series.
Do you train keeping in mind the opponents you are likely to face?
We know who we are going to play two weeks in advance. So we train keeping the opponents in mind. Watching their videos do give us an idea. Whoever plays in Super Series are quite good.
There are a few Indians in the top 50. How is the rivalry among you guys?
It is very intense. The national championships are very tough. Ajay Jayaram is always playing well, Gurusaidutt, Sourabh Varma, K Srikanth, Sameer Varma are some of the players who are doing well. But to make it to the top 10 in the world rankings is something different. They have reached a good level and are getting better.
What needs to be done for them go to the next level?
In India, we tend to focus too much on the individual, unlike in China where everyone supports each other. That is not the case in India. Here, everyone competes with each other and it (competition) gets ugly. Once you are in the final, the rest are forgotten. If Saina (Nehwal) does well, the other shuttlers are forgotten. If Saina wins the final and I enter the semifinal of a tournament, I am forgotten. That is how it is here. The Chinese are sent to a number of tournaments in the year. They are not worried about the results; they are only focussed on their game. Here, everything is an issue. Competition is more in India. We are more worried about doing well personally. You want others to lose, so that you win the tournament (smiles). That’s the way people think.
Do you think Indian badminton can improve if this attitude changes?
I’m not sure whether it will improve. I would actually like all of them to do well. I want Sourabh, Guru and Ajay among others to reach top 10. But it is very tough. Badminton is a very demanding sport. No one is going to help you as there is no team.
You are ranked fifth in the Swiss Open (March 12-17)...
Actually, I am not thinking of the Swiss Open. I want to do well in All England at this point.
You entered the top 10 in world rankings at the start of the year but then slipped from ninth to 11th. Do you attach too much importance to rankings?
Being in the top 10 is good. I would love to be there throughout the year. That is one of my goals. I will try to get better. The main thing is to get a medal at the World Championships and to do well in All England, besides winning a couple of Super Series tournaments. I’m really looking forward to doing well this year. The years 2013 and 2014 are very crucial for me. In 2014, we have the Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games. If I do well this year, I can carry forward the confidence to 2014.