New Delhi: Ace India shuttler Kidambi Srikanth sealed his second title in three weeks as he defeated Olympic Champion Chen Long 22-20, 21-16 in the final of the Australian Open Super Series in Sydney last Saturday. The Australian Open victory is Srikanth's fourth super series title of his career. The newly-crowned world number 8 spoke exclusively to CNN News 18's Rahul Dalal and here are the excerpts from the interview.
ON HIS DREAM RUN
Yes, it was kind of a dream since last couple of months to play 3 super series back to back, so I think I’m slowly able to believe that I did it and its like 2 tournament wins in consecutive weeks so I think that’s something which is taking me time to believe but yeah, I’m very happy with the way I played in the last couple of weeks.
ON BEATING CHEN LONG
The Last 3-4 times I’ve played him, I lost him in a very close match, like I lost about 21-19, 21-18 in both the games so I actually didn’t know if I could actually do a 10% better than what I did in the last meetings I really had the chance and yeah because I was so high on confidence playing so well in the last couple of weeks, y’know, coming into the finals, beating some top players. I think I really had the confidence which actually pushed that 10% more of what I played earlier against him, and I think that 10% made the difference.
ON BEATING WORLD NO.1 SON WAN-HO TWICE IN TWO WEEKS
Yeah definitely because I really have a good record against Son Wan-Ho in the past. I’ve managed to beat him couple of times earlier and that is someone who has actually a better record against me with against whom I didn’t really win at least once so yeah I knew it will be a tough match and I knew it will be a long match for sure. I really prepared myself to play that long match, to stay there and stick with him until the end.
ON BECOMING THE FIRST INDIAN TO WIN BACK TO BACK SUPERSERIES TITLES
I didn’t really think too much about these records and people told me about all these records after I’m back in Hyderabad. You know, when you’re in a tournament you don’t really think much about all these things but just about the player you’re playing in the next round, that’s it.
ON SACHIN TENDULKAR'S APPRECIATION
I feel very happy to hear such kind of words from such a great player but I would say there is still lot more to do for me in the future, and I still have many more goals unachieved and I’m really focused on achieving them now. That’s what I’m only thinking about.
ON HIS FITNESS
I got a good training time before the tournament also because I was injured after the Olympics and in the beginning of the year I didn’t really want to push myself too much thinking about the rankings or anything else but I really wanted to become fit before I start playing international tournaments and that’s when our new Indonesian coaches came on board. I think their input helped me gain my fitness. I feel I’m much fitter than what I was before the Olympics.
ON COACH PULLELA GOPICHAND
I think I always gave him all the credit and I think he really deserves it because he was the only one who thought I can do well in singles. Its also his hard work to train me. He worked as hard as I did for myself. He believed in me every time, everytime I was down, I was losing in the first rounds he still believed in me more than I did and in that was I’m really thankful to him. He’s tough on court for sure. He’s very strict but that’s the reason we now have so many players at the academy.
ON THE TURNAROUND AFTER INJURY SETBACK
I think yeah, until 2015 April or May I did really well. I became world number 3 then, after I won the India open in march. After that it didn’t really go the way I wanted. I lost in the World Championship in the pre-quarter finals and then there were some pre-quarter or quarters here and there but never a semi-final or a final result but all those matches I lost was never an easy thing. I always lost in close matches and I think all those things really helped me grow as a player for sure to pull off those matches in the crucial times. I think all those helped me do really well in say, Indonesia where it was 23-25 in third game and to pull off a match against the world number one that close is something which kept me very happy for a long time and I think all that happened because all the experiences that all those matches gave me in 2015.
I think I really did take a lot of time after the Olympics but especially after the loss against Lindan in the quarter finals that was a close one where I actually had the chance and I was leading until 16-17 in third game. That was a close one, and yeah I don’t have any regrets because I just played the way I like and unfortunately I lost but all those matches helped me grow as a player.
ON FELLOW INDIAN SHUTTLERS
Definitely yeah, because after having so many players playing well I think it really helps grow our confidence, and I think you can actually see that in Indonesia where Prannoy beat Lee Chong Wei and Chen Long in successive rounds. That’s something that was never achieved before and I don’t think many people have done that so I think it all happened only because of the confidence we have in ourselves and it all happened only because we have so many good players amongst us and we play at the highest level every day. So our game only grows everyday. Its just that we need to train everyday and our game will grow for sure.
That will definitely do. Its like, everytime we face an opponent. I have a different view when you compare it with Prannoy or Sai, so it is always good to take different opinions against a player as you don’t know which might work so it is always good to take different opinions for sure.
ON FUTURE TARGETS
Its World Championship next I’m playing in August, and I have a good 7 weeks before I leave. I haven’t really set any target for myself going into the championship, but its just that I want to play consistently well.
ON THE BURDEN OF EXPECTATIONS
No I don’t really think so. Its natural for people to have expectations on any player. So I don’t feel it as of any pressure. I feel it is more of an inspiration or motivation for me to do well.
ON WHAT HE DOES DURING OFF TIME
Not really. I really like to give my body a bit of rest every time I get free time. But few times I go out to movies with friends, that’s it.
ON RETURNING TO HIS HOMETOWN
Its always good to be back in home town for sure and I’m really enjoying being here.