New Delhi: Unfazed by the defending champion's tag, shuttler Sameer Verma has set his sights on retaining the title at the Syed Modi World Tour Super 300 tournament and earn a shot at next month's BWF World Tour Finals in China.
The 24-year-old from Dhar is currently at the 12th place in the Race to Guangzhou ranking and he will need to get into the top 8 to qualify for the year-ending $1,500,000 tournament.
"I am not thinking about the defending champion tag at all. It brings along a lot of pressure and I am just looking to play the tournament to the best of my ability. Results are not in my hand," Sameer told PTI.
"Of course, I would like to retain the title and if I can do that there is a chance that I will be able to qualify for World Tour Finals. So I am not thinking much about it but it remains the target," he added.
Troubled by a shoulder injury for the most part of last year, a fit Sameer played 19 tournaments this season, clinching Swiss Open and Hyderabad Open and presently he looks in good shape.
"I am playing well but it would be tough with all the best Indian shuttlers playing. It will all depend on how calm and patient I can be on that day. If I can stay positive and reduce the mistakes, I will do well," he said.
Sameer had won a bronze at the 2011 World Junior Championship before injuries hampered his progress in 2012 and 2013. In fact, the Indian has been battling multiple injuries throughout his short international career, making it difficult to set any specific goal.
This year finally, he was able to play an entire season without breaking down and the 25-year-old Indian says he just wants to be able to stay injury free and keep playing tournaments.
"I had told earlier that I just want to stay injury free. I just want to focus on my body. I always knew if I can focus on training and stay fit, even if I lose first round, I can do better in the other events," he said.
"Injuries put a break on progress as a lot of time is wasted to recover, so I was taking a break whenever I was feeling tired. So I skipped Singapore and two China events."
Talking about his most tough matches this season, Sameer said: "After winning Hyderabad Open, I had immediately played Japan Open and though I lost the match against Lee Dong Keun, it was a good match.
"Also the next matches against Anders Antonsen at Korea, (Kidambi) Srikanth at Denmark and Jonatan Christie at French Open were good quality games."
Asked if he has been able to analyse the reasons why he has not been able to win more matches, Sameer said: "I am trying to figure out my mistakes. I am watching and analysing my game. There is no time in this hectic schedule, we just pack our bags and play week after week."
His performance helped him to get inside the top 20 again but Sameer said he is not happy with his current ranking of World No 18.
"I am not satisfied with my ranking because it is fluctuating. Someday I am in the 20s and then again inside the top 20. I would want to stay inside the top 15 consistently. So I just want to play consistently and it would help to get my ranking up," he said.
Sameer is also looking forward to the lucrative Premier Badminton League (PBL) where he will turn up for Mumbai Rockets, who had reached the finals in the last edition.
Asked about the team composition, Sameer said: "We don't have a good women's singles player, so that is a weakness. Because if you look at the other teams there is Saina, Sindhu, Marin, Sung Ji who are very strong.
"So the rest of the members will have to share the responsibility of taking the team through.
"Last year also I played for Mumbai. This time there are two new venues, Pune and Ahmedabad, and also Mumbai, so I am hoping to do well at the PBL," he signed off.
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Updated Date: Nov 18, 2018 19:01:14 IST