HS PRANNOY is the face of the Mumbai Rockets team in the Premier Badminton League which kickstarts on 2nd January. The 23-year-old is excited about leading the team and is geared up for the opening match against Awadhe Warriors.
He was present at the team launch in the city and TFG caught up with him for a quick chat.
How does it feel to be the face of a team? This question probably arises because at the moment in men's singles Kashyap and Srikanth are the major players.
If you see the last couple of performances, I'm really happy to see how things are going at the moment. May be, last few months it has been tough because of the injury due to which my ranking has dropped, but I think I've been performing well. I know there is still time and I have to give my best to get into the top 10. Talking about PBL, I really didn't expect to be the face of a team and I'm very happy about being given this opportunity. I think once I start playing my best fans and the media will notice me, so I'm really happy at the moment.
You mentioned about the injury, so it is not completely healed yet?
Yes, it hasn't completely healed. A normal period of nine months is what it will take but it has been bad and it is taking its own time to heal. There are so many other things that are adding to it and in fact, there is nothing you can do about injuries. It just comes if your time is not really good, but yes, for almost 5-6 months I could not do much. But then slowly I began my training and worked on the factors that needed practise. In the next couple of months I should be playing my 100% as the injury has healed almost 90% and after that, I should be playing really well.
How does it feel to be up against a top player like Lin Dan and then beating him in the first round at the French Open?
It was a great feeling and I think that match was the best I ever played. Because one has never seen Lin Dan giving away matches, and I don't think he gave away the match to me. He was fighting well that day. When I played him in the Malaysian Masters, maybe the strategy I used was wrong as I was giving him a lot of respect because I was playing him for the first time. This time, I did not want to repeat the mistake as I considered him as just any other player. So I was really happy with the result as it was a tough game; even mentally it took a toll on me. Then I expected myself to get back to court and play equally good, but it did not happen and that is why I was out in the second round losing to a junior player. But it was really a great feeling after beating him because one has always dreamt of playing against him at least once in a lifetime and beating him actually added more to it for me.
Cristiano Ronaldo in his documentary, towards the end says that he loves the pressure and the day he doesn't have that pressure he will end his career. There is this constant talk about pressure. Can you share some of your thoughts on it as badminton is a fast game and how do you handle the pressure?
I don't think anybody can say that at this moment he is going to play in a certain way. It totally depends on the situation and with time you start to play better and better. For example, when you are a junior player, 19-19 in the game is a very tense moment, but now I know it is not the end of the world. You play much more freely but the pressure is always there because you always want to play and the first thing that comes to your mind after losing is what next? It is easy to say that the loss should be left but difficult to implement. It becomes more crucial when it is a team event because if I lose the game, it affects the whole team. I think by experience you learn to handle it and I completely agree to what Ronaldo said. Because without pressure, there is no fun basically and there is no point in training. Now when everyone is playing there is constant pressure to play your best or else there are junior players who will catch up and go ahead in the game. So that is the kind of pressure you need and are going through every day. It just adds up to the intensity of the training to be the best and at the top of your game.
What would be your message to the fans about the league and the sport?
I think people are very excited to see this badminton league happening because they don't get to see players like Saina or Sindhu or Lee Chong Wei often, and now you have all these top players playing in front of them. Seeing them on television and watching them live is totally different because when you see them live the atmosphere is completely different. I feel that is how these leagues are helping the players, especially the budding ones who will get a chance to play with them and against them. I hope people come out in huge numbers to watch the matches and this league continues every year.
Any special message to the fans in Mumbai?
If you see all the leagues I think the best turnout of fans is in Mumbai. They have the feeling that Mumbai is their own city just like one would feel about India being their country. There is a pride that is seen in the people of Mumbai which is unique because I have never heard someone from Kerala saying that he is proud to be from Kerala. I think that should be a plus point for us especially the home matches and we begin our opening match in the city so I hope the crowd comes in and shows their support.