Indian shuttlers bank on home conditions

Badminton: World Championship: Quartet hails KBA stint as motivational


AWESOME FOUR: Sayali Gokhale, Aditi Mutatkar, Arvind Bhat and Chetan Anand (from left) address the media at the Karnataka Badminton Association on Monday. DH Photo

While sounding realistic about their chances in a highly competitive field, they hoped familiar conditions and crowd support would help them go the extra mile. “For instance, Koreans win the Korean Open, Malayasians the Malayasian Open, and the same applies to the Chinese and Indonesian Opens. This has a lot to do with home advantage. We hope this will help us too,” Bhat and Chetan averred in unison.

 After a month-long training at the Karnataka Badminton Academy, mainly to enhance his endurance, Bhat was hopeful of making an impact on his return to action. “I have had a tough past one month. I realised I was feeling tired as I advanced to the later stages in the tournaments. So I decided to do some endurance drills like running, which I could hardly do earlier because of a knee injury,” he said.

The tall shuttler will run into Chinese Taipei’s Yu Hsing Hsieh, who has proved the Indian’s nemesis in their previous two meetings. “In my first match against him, I was placed pretty well. But I committed some silly mistakes to lose it. In the second, I just kept thinking of the previous match and lost it too,” he added.

Should Bhat clear the first hurdle and then progress to the pre-quarters, he will be up against a certain Taufik Hidayat.

The draw is not so harsh on Chetan. The Hyderabadi will meet lowly-ranked Korean Ji Hoon Hong in the opening round and is likely to face Indonesian Sony Dwi Kuntoro in the pre-quarters. The Indian has beaten Kuntoro in their only face-off. “It’s a good draw, I’ve never seen him (his first-round opponent) play before, but I have beaten Sony. So I am quite confident going into the tournament,” he remarked.

The former National champion said his stint in Bangalore has motivated him a lot. “It was good in the sense that just talking to Prakash (Padukone) sir and Vimal (Kumar) sir, I have got a lot of motivation. Plus, compared to Hyderabad, I had more quality hitting partners here,” he noted.

The tough training schedule, Sayali said, has upped her confidence, while Aditi claimed she has overcome the fear factor that has seen her go up and down as far as her on-court performances are concerned.

Olympic champion Lin Dan may not have played much after the Beijing Games, but both Chetan and Bhat put their money on the Chinese to win the title.

The girls, though, didn’t believe that a Chinese women’s champ was a cinch. “There is no aura around the Chinese this time. It’s anybody’s game. The key is to be consistent throughout. Despite having chicken pox, Saina too can go all the way,” signed off Aditi on an optimistic note.

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