In more ways than one, it has been a truly memorable year (2019) for Sai Praneeth. The 27-year-old was conferred the Arjuna Award and also went on to bag a historic World badminton championships bronze.
On the personal front, too, it was just as memorable, having tied the knot with Swetha Jayanthi last month.
“2019 was good news for me other than [just] badminton. I played consistently well. Reaching the Swiss Open final in March really changed things for me at the beginning of the year,” said Praneeth, at a media interaction here on Saturday, ahead of Premier Badminton League Season-5.
In good position
In the race against time by Indians to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, Praneeth is in a relatively good position to make the cut — being ranked 11th in the world and 19th according to Olympic qualification rules (only those in the top 16 and two from a country can qualify).
“Four months still remain. Everyone is fighting for the spot. There is a very big competition. I want to confirm my berth as soon as possible,” said Praneeth.
He said World No. 1 Kento Momota would be the player to beat in Tokyo as he is physically and mentally much fitter than the rest, but felt the Japanese might not win at the Olympics.
“The one-year ban [in 2016] made him strong, and that helped him so much. He trained very hard [during the time]. But my sixth sense says Momota will lose in the Olympics, but we can never say for sure.
“Because he has won everything — the Super Series, the BWF Super 1000, 750 and 500 — there might be extra pressure on him at Tokyo,” he said.
Praneeth felt the BWF schedule had become hectic as players have to play a minimum of 12 tournaments in a calendar year.
“At some point, it becomes difficult. We can’t play that many tournaments but we have no choice. Unless the BWF makes a change, we can’t do anything about it,” he said.
On playing in PBL-5 beginning here on Monday, Praneeth, representing Bengaluru Raptors this time, said he had a great time playing in the previous four seasons.
“I’ve good memories as I have won two PBL titles,” he said.