Mumbai, Oct. 19: India ace PV Sindhu is currently the best badminton player in the world but she should prioritise winning the All England Championship, which is the only trophy missing from her illustrious cabinet, said the legendary Prakash Padukone on Tuesday.
Sindhu, a double Olympic medallist and the reigning world champion, has won medals in almost all big-ticket events but the All England trophy has eluded her so far. Padukone, India's first All England champion, said Sindhu should plan her schedule in such a way that she is in the best possible shape for winning the prestigious title.
"If I was in her (Sindhu's) place, I would do that (prioritise the tournament). That is one title, which is missing from her ... otherwise I think she has done a fantastic job," Padukone said after launching the PSM Badminton Coaching Programme at the National Sports Club of India.
"...probably she is the best badminton player, she has won everything: Olympics, World Championship, five medals. All England is one which is not in her (winners list trophies)," he told reporters here on Tuesday.
Sindhu had become the first Indian woman to claim two Olympic medals when she won the bronze at Tokyo Games to go with her silver at Rio five years ago. The 26-year-old from Hyderabad has won two silver and two bronze medals before securing the gold medal at the 2019 World Championships in Basel.
She has also won a silver (2018) and bronze (2014) medal at the Commonwealth Games in women's singles besides the team gold three years ago. "I think she has done well in the year-end tournaments, so All England is the title she should aim for and work backward," said Padukone, who had claimed the coveted trophy in 1980.
"You know the date March, to reach there, she needs to discuss with her coach, say that 'I want to win this tournament', so what tournaments do you play, work backwards.
"Before that you want three weeks rest, two weeks rest, so plan your schedule accordingly, so you are at the peak of the form when you play the All England."
The 66-year-old Bengaluru-based Padukone, however, admitted that there is a big gap in women's singles after Sindhu and Saina Nehwal. "I think there is a big gap. So that is a fact," he said.
Padukone attributed Sindhu and Saina's success to their physical abilities. "I think the standard generally was very low, but these two (Saina and Sindhu) took it to a different level altogether. They have raised the bar so high, that it is almost impossible for others. I think one of the main reasons why these two have succeeded is because of their physical abilities.
"Both of them were very fit in terms of speed, fitness, strength, power, which none of the other girls have."
Padukone feels "technically" the other Indian women shuttlers "are probably on par" with Saina and Sindhu. "...the current lot of players who are playing right now, they are technically or stroke wise, they are as good as maybe Saina or Sindhu, but what they lack is physical parameter," he said.
"In terms of speed, power, staying power, lasting endurance, these are the three areas where (the two are strong)."
Padukone, a former world no 1, said that he would pick somebody who is physically strong over someone technically sound as the game has become physical now.
"I would probably pick somebody who is very strong, not technically so sound, but who is fit and strong and fast, then it is easier to train then. But if you are technically strong, that means you have good strokes and all that, physically if you are not strong, you can take them up to certain, beyond that it becomes difficult.
"You know the physical parameter, it has become a physical game now, so that cannot compensate (for) your technical skills."
Young Lakshya Sen had won five titles in 2019 before the international circuit was suspended due to COVID-19. He recently reached the finals of Dutch Open. Padukne said Lakshya has a long way to go.
"He has done well so far, he is quite young but he should not be satisfied," he added. "...I think these are more learning, he should learn from all these (tournaments), he has got another 1-2 years to for him to reach his peak," he signed off.