Patience made the difference: Anup

By Dev S. Sukumar, IANS

Kuala Lumpur : India’s Anup Sridhar, who Thursday stunned 2003 All England champion Hafiz Hashim to enter the quarterfinals of the Proton World Badminton Championship, has only just begun to realise what his coaches expect of him.
What sets him apart from most Indian players is a certain confidence in himself that some might mistake for arrogance. But it is this quality that makes his backers believe he won’t crumble under pressure and that, no matter how dire his situation in a match, he won’t stop believing in himself.

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His game is essentially different from the classical Indian style, which relies more on deception than big hitting. But Anup is by nature an aggressive player, using his long reach to bring in the steep smashes, and using his height to intercept defensive clears from his opponents.

But while earlier he showed signs of impatience and reluctance to slug it out, especially in sticky, long-drawn encounters, he now shows unmistakable signs of never giving in until it’s over.

In Wednesday’s match against Taufik Hidayat, he trailed 14-18, but still kept in the hunt, eventually winning 22-20. Thursday’s defeat of Hashim also showcased some of that ability, when he shrugged off a second-game defeat to upset the 13th seed.

Anup next takes on world champion Lin Dan of China. Lin had beaten him in straight games at the Doha Asian Games in December.

Excerpts from Anup’s interview with IANS:

Q: Did the match go the way you expected it to?

A: It turned out exactly the way I expected it. We were both trying to control the net, get a lift and hit, because that’s our strength – he planned to hit to my forehand flank and did a couple of tricks at the net. He did catch me a couple of times with his wristwork.

Q: His style is like a mirror image of yours.

A: Yeah. I thought I could’ve been a bit more tight in the second, I was up 9-4. But I gave a few easy points and let him get into the match.

Q: You are able to climb back from tight spots. That’s something you didn’t do earlier, at the international level.

A: It’s about getting patient. That’s probably the key. I’m staying in the points longer.

Q: Your defence has been the standout aspect of your game.

A: I’ve worked a lot on it. I’ve spent all season on it. I have a good reach, so I can get a lot of shuttles. I can still do with better control and placement.

Q: How was your mind state today? You played a near-perfect match.

A: The two matches were different. Today I wanted to win at any cost. But yesterday (against Taufik)… I wanted to give everything I had. I didn’t want to come out of the court without feeling I could’ve hit a harder smash or moved a bit better. Yesterday was my best match ever.

Q: How were you feeling physically today? You’d started cramping after the Taufik match.

A: Yesterday was such a long match. I was surprised today, because in the third game I felt better than in the second. Maybe it was adrenaline; suddenly I thought I could push the pace and give it a go. That worked.

I think these results are due to my better fitness. I’m able to push a little bit more, hit a couple more smashes, stay in a bit longer. That’s making the difference. Also, the confidence of my results this season. I’m pretty high on confidence now.

Q: How do you expect the match against world champion Lin Dan to go?

A: Well, he’s the favourite.