Notwithstanding the odds stacked against India going far in the upcoming Thomas Cup and Uber Cup finals, there was no dearth of optimism for chief coach P. Gopi Chand. “Our first goal is to reach the quarterfinals (in both sections),” Gopi said.
The premier team competition will he held here from May 18 to 25. The Chinese men will be seeking their 10th Thomas Cup triumph, and sixth in succession. In the Uber Cup, 12-time winner China is the defending champion.
India will be hosting the finals for the first time after having conducted the qualifying phase in 1988, 2000 and 2006. In 2010, India reached the quarterfinals in both sections.
“Our strength is obviously singles,” said Gopi, pointing to the presence of K. Srikanth, P. Kashyap and R.M.V. Gurusaidutt, while talking to mediapersons a day after the team began its preparatory camp at the venue of the competition.
“Our doubles combinations have been playing well but there is not much to show in terms of results. Everyone is keen to perform and the team spirit is good. Our singles players beat many higher-ranked players in the Indian Badminton League, and that was good for their confidence.”
Up against the world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei-led Malaysia, Korea and Germany in the league phase, India will have to finish at least second in this four-team group to reach the last-eight stage.
Unlike in Thomas Cup, the Indian hopes of advancing in Uber Cup rest on the success of the doubles pair. The combination of G. Jwala and Ashwini Ponnappa will be expected to pull off a victory to complement the expected wins of Saina Nehwal and P.V. Sindhu in the best-of-five matches.