GUWAHATI, Feb 12: A crammed BWF calendar affecting his fitness last season, Indian shuttler B Sai Praneeth says he will pick his tournaments carefully in the Olympic qualification year and is eyeing a national title to prepare for the All England Championship next month.
With defending champion HS Prannoy and finalist Kidambi Srikanth withdrawing due to fitness issues, former champion Praneeth will be one of the favourites to lift the trophy at the 83rd Senior Nationals, which got underway with the qualifiers here on Tuesday.
“Last season, I struggled with my fitness and confidence because there were too many tournaments. So I couldn’t maintain fitness. From June to December, I played continuously, so it was all about fitness. I am fine now and fortunately no injuries,” Praneeth told PTI.
“I am looking forward to All England next month and Nationals will be good match practice to prepare. It will help my confidence ahead of the international events. You have to beat all the top Indian players to win it and it is not easy because everyone is playing well,” said Praneeth, who will also play the Swiss Open this year. The Olympic qualification period will be between April 29, 2019 to April 26, 2020, and the BWF rankings published on April 30, 2020 will decide who makes the cut for the Tokyo Games.
Praneeth, who is currently ranked 26th, said he will need a bit of luck and a series of consistent performances to earn him a ticket to the Olympics.
“It is an Olympic qualification year, so scheduling of the tournaments will be important. I can afford not to play a few events. We will need a bit of luck and good performance. I have to play quarters and semis consistently, but that won’t be easy, so you also need a favourable draw sometimes.” – PTI