Olympics Silver medallist PV Sindhu's coach Pullela Gopichand feels that his protege can do even better despite enjoying a stupendous run in 2016. Gopichand also wished that his former pupil Saina Nehwal can get back to her best in the next year after struggling with a knee injury this year.
"I think badminton has become very challenging with lots of different nations participating and lots of young, exciting players dominating the scene with different styles of play. If we want to do consistently well, we need to keep evolving and keep adjusting to different styles,” badminton ace Pullela Gopichand told TOI on Wednesday.
Speaking about his star student PV Sindhu, who enjoyed a successful year winning the Silver medal at Rio Olympics and following it up a maiden Superseries victory in the China Open, Gopichand felt that the 21-year could do even better than that.
“Sindhu has done well to get here and a lot of people will keep looking to her to beat her opponents, and it's going to be challenging. But, I am happy with the way she has coped with the pressure this year. In 2013-14 when she was winning, I maintained that Sindhu is still some time away from being her best. Even now, she has the potential to do better," he said, on the sidelines of the inauguration of the Mumbai Rockets squad for the second season of the Premier Badminton League.
"She is a very emotional person so she needs to kind of lose a few times to get accustomed to the fact that it's ok to lose sometimes. She is 21 and she has achieved a lot," he added.
Gopichand also opined that there is great challenge in front of Sindhu with the emergence of exciting talents across the world.
"A bunch of players just over 20 are vying for top honours. They include Tai Tzu Ying, Carolina Marin and Nozomi Okuhara. A couple of Chinese players too are evolving very well, so I guess the challenge is huge," he said.
Speaking about his former student Saina Nehwal, who made her return at the Hong Kong Open in November after suffering from a chronic knee injury, Gopichand hoped that she would be back to her best by next year.
"It's wonderful to see Saina come back and give some good performances in China and Hong Kong, and I am sure in the coming days she will get better,” the 43-year old said.
"I think the fact that she played back-to-back tournaments showed she has recovered very well. Of course, the fitness element and movement on court will take some time, but, it's only a matter of time before she gets back to her best," he added.
Speaking about the progress by the Indian male badminton players, the 2001 All England Open winner said, "Many of them had played a lot of tournaments trying to qualify for the Olympics. That actually made dents in their fitness, but I am happy that we did have a quarter-finals result at the Olympics which was important.
"We have had Sameer Verma do well, Sourabh Verma do well, Ajay Jayaram do well. I accept the fact that we should have been more consistent, but, they have shown that they have the potential to play against the top players and it augurs well.”