New Delhi, Aug 7 (IANS) Badminton legend Prakash Padukone has no hesitation in calling four-time World Championship medallist P.V. Sindhu as one of the “greats” among Indian shuttlers even as he hoped that the Hyderabadi will break her silver medal run in major championships.
Sindhu recently returned with a second successive silver medal from the Nanjing World Championships after going down to her old nemesis Carolina Marin of Spain in the summit clash. The Spaniard had also defeated Sindhu at the Rio Olympic Games final.
The 23-year-old has settled for the second spot in four successive tournaments this season — India Open, Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, Thailand Open and the World Championships — with many questioning her inability to win the finals of major tournaments.
However, Padukone, who was ranked World No.1 in 1980 — the same year that he became the first Indian to win the All England title — said performing at the top level with that kind of consistency is not easy.
“She has played quite well, it’s quite creditable that she has reached the second successive World Championship final. The competition at the top isn’t easy, but I think she should aim for the gold next time,” Padukone told reporters after the final of the PNB Metlife Junior championship season 4, here.
“On the whole, I reckon that’s a creditable performance. She beat two good Japanese players (Nozomi Okuhara and Akane Yamaguchi) to whom she normally loses. It’s unfortunate that she couldn’t win the final,” he added.
On being asked if Sindhu can be counted among the greats in Indian badminton, Padukone said: “She is definitely one among the greats. She is still very young, she’s got a long way to go.”
“She’s only 23, I think by the time she retires she will conquer many more milestones.”
While Sindhu has consistently raised the bar in global tournaments, the story of her compatriot and London Olympics bronze medallist Saina Nehwal isn’t quite the same.
Padukone advised the Hyderabad-based star to manage her workload to get back to winning ways.
“Good that she is staging a comeback, she needs to be a little more consistent and manage her schedule a little better. You have to ask the coach, it depends on each individual,” he said.
On India’s chances in the upcoming Asian Games starting August 18, the 63-year-old said it will be tough considering the participation of all the top badminton playing nations.
“It will be tough because most of the top badminton playing nations are in Asia, a lot of them are preparing for the Asian Games.”
“It’s also so close to the World Championships, so it’s difficult for any player to pick in two important events but it’s not impossible. It depends on how they pick that week,” he said.
Padukone conceded that Indian players have started conquering the Asian wall, once dominated by the Chinese, Malaysian and Indonesian shuttlers but at the same time wanted his country’s shuttlers to focus on consistency.
“We have already conquered it, it’s just that we have not been able to put it across in the important events but most of our top players have already beaten the top Asian players in some tournament or the other.
“It’s not that they are unbeatable, it’s just that we need to click at the important events,” he added.