Prannoy hopes to break into top 30

M.R. Praveen Chandran
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good move:Switching from attacking to a slightly more defensive style has helped H.S. Prannoy at the senior level.— PHOTO: AFP
good move:Switching from attacking to a slightly more defensive style has helped H.S. Prannoy at the senior level.— PHOTO: AFP

Three years after he won a surprise silver medal in the Youth Olympics, H.S. Prannoy is finally showing that promise at the senior level.

The 21-year-old has reached his career best ranking — 42 in the world — after a string of good performances in tournaments around the world. After struggling to replicate his performance at junior level in the senior level for sometime, Prannoy has at last found some semblance of consistency.

This year has been quite profitable for this Thiruvananthapuram lad. Starting with a semifinal appearance at the Polish Open, Prannoy reached the quarterfinals of the Swiss Open and Indian Open. He also reached the quarterfinals in the Japan Open earlier this month.

He upset quite a few higher ranked players in all these tournaments — the notable one being Taufik Hidyat in the Indian Open. At the Japan Open, Prannoy beat world number 11 Wing Ki Wong and world number five Jan Jorgensen before running out of steam in the quarterfinals to higher ranked Huan Gao of China.

Beating the former world number one Taufik Hidyat was a dream come true for Prannoy.

“He was my childhood hero. I had watched videos of many of his matches and beating him was unbelievable. It gave me great satisfaction and confidence,” says Prannoy. He eventually lost to top-seed Lee Chong Wei in the quarterfinals, but put up a gutsy display.

However, Prannoy says the turnaround was the decision to change his playing style. “I worked on my game with my coach Gopi Chand. I changed my game from attacking to a slightly more defensive style. Now I try to prolong the rallies. I have also improved my fitness — especially strength.”

“I am also trying to improve my movement, especially on the fore-court. Rashid Sidek, who was my coach in the IBL, pointed out this flaw in my game. Before the Japan open, I got two weeks to work on it and the results are there for all to see. But I still have a long way to go,” he says to The Hindu from Hyderabad, where he is currently recovering from a knee injury he sustained during the PSCB tournament.

“It is only a slight twist in the ankle. I have been advised a week’s rest. I have started doing light training and will be back on court soon,” he adds.

Prannoy plans to take part in six to seven overseas tournaments this season. “I somehow will have to end this quarterfinal jinx. It is not that I am choking but I must learn to be more consistent. I hope to break into the top-30 by the end of this year. There is little difference between players in the top-30. The standard is quite high. Overseas players have more experience as they play in more tournaments than us,” he says.

Prannoy, who missed the last senior nationals due to back injury, is keen to do well in the domestic circuit as well. “I will be taking part in the senior nationals and I hope to do well. I am keen to improve my national ranking. I know I am a better player than my current ranking of 10 suggests,” he said.

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