Plagued by injury and struggling for form, former national badminton champion Anup Sridhar did not enter the recently conducted All India Senior ranking championship with high hopes.
He was delighted after defeating Saurabh Verma in the final to clinch the title. He quips, “It always feels good to win.”
Verma, a qualifier, should not to have troubled the number two seed much. However, Sridhar, was found to be lacking in sharpness and had to overcome three close games to overcome him. “I was a little short in confidence throughout the tournament,” he said. “I have been struggling with my form for the last couple of months.”
Back on the circuit after a brief spell on the sidelines, Sridhar looked rusty and out of sorts during the tournament.
He was still the favourite for the title, after top seed Ajay Jayaram's exit in the opening round; and did not disappoint a partisan home crowd. However, his progress was not very smooth and the lack of match practice was evident in the final.
Up 20-18 in the second game of the match, Sridhar made uncharacteristic errors to concede the game, and blew six match points in the third before settling his nerves and finishing the match . “I was getting a little desperate,” he admits.
“I usually never let match points go like that.” The 27 year-old maintains that fitness was never an issue. He pointed to the third game as an example.
“The second game had left him (Verma) very tired.” But Sridhar appeared to have no such problems. “That is why I was not worried about the match going into a third game. I have always been very confident about my fitness and stamina levels.”
The Bangalorean, playing under the banner of the Petroleum Sports Promotion Board had last won a title in January 2008 at the Pramod Mahajan Memorial tournament in New Delhi.
He candidly said: “I needed to win such a tournament. It will give me great confidence for the future.”
Sridhar adds that he is not fully match fit. “My form is not good. I feel that I am about 30 to 40 percent away from my peak.”
With more tournaments to come this year, things are most definitely looking up for the youngster.
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