Not easy to compete against Tai: Gopichand

Not easy to compete against Tai: Gopichand

If there is one player majority on the circuit loathe facing, it is Tai Tzu Ying. The Chinese Taipei World No 1, gifted with a great all-round game, has almost become an unshakable force.

Saina Nehwal, who has lost her last 12 encounters against Tai and holds a 5-14 win-loss record, hailed her as the 'Roger Federer' of women's badminton and conceded that one can only defeat her if she has a bad day in the office.

India's top shuttler PV Sindhu too has found the going tough against Tai although she beat her at the season-ending World Tour Finals. National coach P Gopichand, who works closely with both Sindhu and Saina, admitted it's indeed very difficult to plot Tai's downfall consistently but felt it's possible.

"To be fair, with Tai Tzu, what you are seeing is a phenomenally good player. She has a wide range of shots, her speed along with her mental strength makes her quite a formidable opponent. So I think it's not easy to compete against her," said Gopichand on the sidelines of the Premier Badminton League final on Sunday.

"But having said that, Sindhu has beaten her in recent tournaments. She beat her where it mattered, at the (Rio) Olympics, so we had our share of good wins. Also if you look at Saina's record against her, although losses are there, the last few matches you could see there were a couple of close matches. So I want to be optimistic and say that we will be better the next time around but she is someone who is strong and we need to plan better to beat her and the planning is not in the match but in preparation."

Gopichand also hailed the resurgence of India's ace men's singles player Kidambi Srikanth, who posted eight wins from as many matches to lead Bengaluru Raptors to title victory. Plagued by leg injury towards the end of 2017, Srikanth rose to World No 1 last year but failed to win any titles in a lacklustre season.

"I think what he has played here is a testimony to the fact that he is capable of beating the best players in the world. Conditions across the world will be different, players will be different and he will have to face players and different challenges and that will be something he will have to do in the big tournaments," said Gopichand.

Choosing tournaments

Both Srikanth and Saina, in a bid to stay fresh and healthy, have said they'll pick and choose tournaments this season where Olympic qualification spots are up for grabs. Gopichand said he can only comment on their decision at the end of the season. 

"I think it will be a mad rush of players trying to qualify for the Olympics. I've seen many qualifications go by in the last few years and I do believe that players need to take extreme care about injury prevention. They have to make sure to consistently get performances and at the end of the year, that's what matters. So it will be a tough year but hopefully, we have less injuries and manage well.

"From my side I think, you need to be mature and clear with the plan (of choosing tournaments). Obviously it's not always going to work as per plan and the back-up, whatever it is, has to be based on sound principles and not wishful thinking."