I’m still surprised how it all happened. I had lost the first game to Li, and in the second set, we were locked at 17-17. I was nervous, but grit and determination kept me going and I won the set by 19-21. This buoyed my confidence in the third set which was vital for the win.
Was this your best game ever?
I can’t say. However, my most memorable game was in the Olympics QF where I lost.
Both your parents are badminton champions so you must have begun early.
I had been visiting badminton courts with my parents ever since I was an infant. While they were playing, I was made to sleep in the corner for hours. I learnt to handle a racquet at five and by nine I was fully into the game.
You seem to lead a very austere life unlike other teenagers.
I took up badminton like a medical student would take up his or her studies.
At 19, you’ve conquered great heights. What’s your ultimate aim?
To go still further. I never thought I would achieve it so early. In ’06, at 16, I won the Philippines Grand Prix Gold, which is also a record.
What do you enjoy apart from badminton?
I’m an SRK fan. I watch his movies.
Is sponsorship a problem for badminton players in India?
For me it’s like god’s gift, but there are players who face sponsorship issues. Corporate houses must come forward and help such players.
Did you ever think of playing another sport?
No. My first love is badminton. I’m often asked why I didn’t try tennis. Training in tennis is too expensive compared to badminton.
Who are your role models?
Gopichand and Roger Federer.
Any plans for the world championships in Hyderabad in August?
More hard work with utmost dedication. Rest is up to the almighty.