India's top-ranked shuttler Kidambi Srikanth said that remaining fit for upcoming Commonwealth Games gold medal has been a priority for him, a reason why he skipped a few tournaments last year, which could have helped him become world No 1. Srikkanth asserted that his aim is to become "world No. 1 by winning tournaments" and not just reach quarters to earn ranking points.
"For me, winning a medal at the Commonwealth and Asian Games is more important. If I wanted to be World No 1 and not win tournaments (CWG or Asiad), I would have pushed myself to play China and Hong Kong Open last year after the French Open," said Srikanth, the current world No 3.
"And the kind of form I was in, I would have managed to play quarterfinals in both the events and I would have gone on to become World No 1 but I wanted to win tournaments rather than think about rankings. So I opted out of those tournaments and gave my body extra time to recover from injury," Srikanth said at the India Today Conclave.
"I don't want to play a quarterfinal of a tournament and become World No 1. I want to win the tournament and be World No 1, he said with an air of confidence that is synonymous with champions.
He feels that there is little to choose between the top shuttlers from various countries unlike the Chinese domination till a few years back.
China has been the dominating force at the Beijing Olympics (2008) and London Olympics (2012). They won all the five gold medals (men's singles and doubles, women's singles and doubles, mixed doubles) but now the field is more open,"
"If you seen in top men' singles, at the top you have Viktor (Axelsen) from Denmark, second is Lee Chong Wei, who is from Malaysia, I am at number 3 while China's Chen Long is ranked four.
So there are four different people representing four different countries in the top four." Srikanth feels that India has already emerged as a strong force with five men's singles players in the top-20
I would say European nations are doing well and we are the only nation (India) to have five men's singles player in top 20.," 25-year-old Srikanth said at the India Today Conclave here.
When asked about his coach P Gopichand's view that at a stage if it's 17-all, Srikanth becomes a Robot, he replied: "I am happy to hear this kind of compliments but he has not told me that. I have learned the hard way, lost the matches."
"In the decider in the third set, I have lost the (2016) Olympics quarterfinal closely, with just a point and I think all that I learned from the Olympics worked for me last year. I feel there won't be any strategy at 17-all, he added.
According to Srikanth, every-time he played against Lin Dan or Lee Chong Wei, he has extra motivation because when one gets to beat legends, it is acknowledged as a big achievement.
Srikanth, who won four Super Series titles last year, is yet to win the coveted All England Championships or an Olympic medal. He understands that one needs to win an All England or an Olympic medal to attain legendary status.
The All England is one of the biggest events because it has a history of 100 years attached to it. I would say winning these tournaments, will definitely give the player legendary status," he said.
Asked whether he gets extra motivation from Gopichand to win All England, he said, It's not just about All England but for my every victory, the whole credit goes to him. I would love to have him there sitting there as my coach if I get to win the All England, he added.
(With PTI Inputs)