World Badminton Championships 2017: B Sai Praneeth dubs 'Big Three' title contenders despite own success

New Delhi: The Indian juggernaut has been rolling in men's badminton but the talented B Sai Praneeth feels that it's the 'Holy Trinity' of Lin Dan, Lee Chong Wei and Chen Long, which will be the runaway title contender at the World Championship in Glasgow, starting 21 August.

World No 2 Lee, five-time winner Dan and Olympic gold medallist Long have dominated international badminton for considerable time but Indian shuttlers, including Praneeth, Kidambi Srikanth and HS Prannoy, also had recent success against the trio.

Gold medallist China's Lin Dan, silver medallist Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei (L) and bronze medallist China's Chen Long (R) pose at the victory ceremony for the men's singles badminton event at the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Wembley Arena August 5, 2012. REUTERS/Bazuki Muhammad (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT BADMINTON SPORT OLYMPICS) - RTR366RE

File image of Lin Dan (centre), Lee Chong Wei (L) and Chen Long (R).

But Praneeth said despite their recent wins, the formidable trio still remain a force to reckon with at big events. In fact, the youngster's observation sounded practical.

"If you see Lin Dan, Chen Long and Lee Chong Wei, they are always preparing for the big events. We did beat them in Super Series and that gives us the confidence. But I guess, it is okay for them to lose a Super Series because they have won so much in their career," Praneeth told PTI during an interaction.

"Chen Long didn't win any Super Series event and then won the Olympic gold medal in Rio. Lee Chong also didn't win much but won the All England, ditto for Lin Dan," Praneeth observed stating that Super Series wins won't be an indicator of what to expect at marquee events.

"So I think only if we can beat them in big events, then we can claim that they are beatable."

Prannoy had defeated Lee Chong and Chen Long at Indonesia Super Series and Srikanth had beaten the latter in the finals at Australia Open. Praneeth, himself, had defeated Lee Chong at the 2016 All England Championship.

Talking about his preparation ahead of his maiden World Championship, Praneeth said: "I have prepared well. My training was good and that makes me confident. I just want to perform good. There will be a bit pressure but we need to overcome that in a big event.

"It is a big tournament and we had a six-week gap and initially first four weeks were tough. As we approached the tournament, we increased the quality and reduced the quantity. I am fit and I am ready for the World Championship," he added.

The Hyderabad-born shuttler said he has set his eyes on the Dubai Super Series Final in December and hopes to crack the top-10 this year.

"This year, my aim is to play Super Series Final in Dubai. If I play that then automatically, it would mean my ranking goes up. So I want to give some good performances in Super Series so that I get an entry in Super Series final," said Praneeth, who won the Thailand Open and reached the finals at Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold in January.

"I am at No 10 in terms of Super Series ranking and above me there are three Chinese players, out of which only two would be playing. There are six more Super Series events so let's see. I have a target of reaching the top 10 this year," he added.

A 2010 World Junior bronze medallist, Praneeth has dished out some superb performances but his big wins have most times followed by defeats.

The 2016 Canada Grand Prix champion said he kept his equanimity through the wins and losses and didn't allow the difficult times spoil his game.

"When I was a junior in U-13s and U-16s, I used win many and lose very little but in seniors the defeats have been more but you can't be disappointed by that, there are so many tournaments to play, so have to overcome the defeats," he said.

"Of course, if you prepare too hard and lose in first round at a big event like World Championship, obviously you will feel very bad. But if I win a Super Series immediately after that, then it completely changes. So defeats don't spoil my game," he said assertively.

Despite possessing talent in abundance, Praneeth has taken a some time to come in his element and believes that a top-10 world ranking is not far away.

"Some people need more time to get to the level and some get quickly like Srikanth or Viktor Axelsen. In 2014, he entered the scene and suddenly he won, but everybody can't do that. So obviously, when I look at them, I do feel I need to be there. The way I am playing now, things are looking up," he signed off.

Updated Date: Aug 11, 2017 14:38 PM

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