Will be an Achievement if I’m Able to Sustain BWF No.1 Rank Till End of the Year, Says HS Prannoy

Haseena Sunil Kumar Prannoy, one of the greatest shuttlers produced by India was on a red hot streak this year so far. Starting from the Thomas cup where he played a pivotal role in India’s magical victory, he has not looked back but has gone from strength to strength. He defeated every top-ranked player in the world, including his constant nemesis Kento Momota of japan to whom he had lost all their 7 previous encounters.

A very determined and dogged player, he is consistent. Normally, he was happy doing his stuff behind the shadows of colleagues like Parupalli Kashyap, Kidambi Shrikanth etc. But his brilliant run in the Thomas cup made him a celebrity of sorts.

In a highly illustrious career, he had defeated all legends of the game. In fact, no one has escaped his wrath when his racket runs like a sabre through the opponents. He is 30 years old but wears this lightly around him. He is as fit as anyone else. And last week he had two pieces of happy news that elated him, making him feel really happy and contented.

He reached BWF ranking of world number 1 for the BWF tour and long-time partner Shweta Gomes agreed to marry him.

The marriage is slated for September 14 and this piece is, in a way tribute to this shuttling genius.

In this interview Pannoy talks about the year so far, the match that gave him the most satisfaction, does he consider Viktor Axelson the most difficult player to play against, and what more can he achieve this year.

He also touched on the fact that now he is ranked BWF world number 1 on the BWF tour rankings. And though he has consistently reached quarterfinals and semifinals in most tournaments, had not won any titles.

Q- Prannoy, you have done really well this year. Defeating all top players in the world, including Japan’s Kento Momota, your constant nemesis who got the better of you in all the seven encounters you have had with him so far. But which match gave you the most satisfaction?

A- I think that the match which gave me the most satisfaction was the semifinals of the Thomas cup against Denmark when I played against Rasmus Gemke. It changed lots of things personally for me. The circumstances were such and the fact that I was under lots of pressure. It was very tough to pull off that match. And I was slightly injured also. But I won that match for the team and the country.

Q- You consistently reached quarterfinals and semifinals of the tour tournaments. But did not win a single title. What was the reason?

A- I reached quarters and semis but did not win a single title. I guess I am ok with it. It is tough to win titles. Especially men’s singles. It is difficult to go out there and win titles. But I am happy that I am reaching the semifinals. The next step would be to find out the answers and reach at least the finals of major events.

Q- Would you agree if I say that the year belonged to Viktor Axelson? 7 titles including the world championship and All England is not a small feat. Is he the most difficult player to play against?

A–Yes, I agree that he is phenomenal in every way. And it is not just this year but also the past two, or three years that he has dominated world badminton. He gets tougher to play against in the later stages of the event. He is very focused and his concentration is acute. He is very agile and keeps coming at you most of the time. It is not just the height that bothers you on the court but his court coverage is so good. Hardly ever takes a wrong step. Yes, I will say that he is without a doubt the most difficult player to play against.

Q- You have recently been named as world number 1 in the BWF world tour rankings. This is Great honour and a responsibility. What are your thoughts on the same?

A- Yes, I am happy to know about my world tour rankings. Basically, it is a statement of your consistency in the matches. But it goes up and down depending on how you play a tournament. With many major events left in the year before the tour finals, you will see the numbers change. So I think it will be a good achievement for me if I am able to sustain this rank till the end of the year and go into the finale as number 1.

Q- What are you going to do for the rest of the year? Will you work on your fitness and techniques?

A – Well, fitness and techniques are ongoing processes and you are working on them all the time. For me, it is important that I find a spot in the world tour finals as I have never qualified for it in the past. I have a good chance this year and intend to make the most of it.

Q- Prannoy, you have a complete game. Hardly any flaws or weaknesses. But do you personally feel you can improve on any aspect?

A- I feel that the overall game is pretty decent. But there are some areas that can do with some improvements, some work. There are certain conditions that I have to be wary of. The most important thing is that I have to practice lots with fast shuttles. As in the fast condition, I tend to make mistakes. So I must conquer this aspect and play with confidence in the fast conditions.
Fitness is another area where I have to really find solutions and work hard. It is true that I have become fitter in the last year but there is a good scope of getting fitter so that I am able to give myself a serious chance of a podium finish.

You are getting married shortly, so hearty congratulations from my side and I wish you a great married life.

Yes, I am getting married on the 14th of September and I am looking forward to a happy married life. Many thanks for your good wishes.

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