After maiden title Pawar eyes top-50 in world badminton

February 25th, 2008 - 7:24 pm ICT by admin  

By Avishek Roy
New Delhi, Feb 25 (IANS) A three-month stint at Morten Frost Hansen’s Academy in Denmark and the disappointment of being left out of the Thomas Cup squad seemed to have fired up Anand Pawar to win his maiden international title Sunday. Pawar, son of former internationals Uday and Sujatha Pawar, has all the requisites to be a top badminton player, but the title has boosted his morale to set a new target of cracking the top-50 in the world rankings this year.

Left out of the Thomas Cup team, Pawar, a trainee of the TATA Padukone Badminton Academy, chose not to brood over the missed opportunity, but instead used it to bag the Austrian Open in Vienna Sunday.

“I was left out of the Thomas Cup and it was possibly one of the factors that pumped me up,” 21-year-old Pawar told IANS on phone from Vienna Monday.

Pawar’s coach Vimal Kumar feels that this is just the kind of morale booster that the young player needed.

“We sent him to train under Morten Frost in the Aarhus Training Academy in Denmark for three months last year and that has helped him a lot. He is a quick-reflex player, but can be rash at times. He will have to apply himself on the court a bit more and this win possibly will give him that confidence. He is 21 and has age on his side to mature into a better player,” Vimal told IANS.

Pawar became only the second Indian player after the late Syed Modi to win the Austrian Open.

“I have never won any senior level tournament in India. I have reached the finals of quite a few tournaments in the last two-three years but have never won. It’s all the more exciting that my first title is an international one,” said Pawar, now ranked 124 in the world.

Pawar capped a remarkable run by beating Ukrainian veteran Vladislav Druzchenko, ranked No. 60 in straight games 21-16, 21-15, in the final. Druzchenko is a former top-15 player. Pawar did not lose a single game on his way to the title.

“I had tough matches and beat good players here, but I was not putting any pressure on myself. It has definitely given me the confidence that I can play in the elite field and beat top players,” Pawar said.

“I am aiming to reach the top-50 or 60 this year. But reaching (there) alone is not enough, I will have to improve further,” said Pawar.

Despite the fine win Pawar has his feet firmly on the ground. “It was not the biggest tournament in the world. My ranking will go up but I will have to stay focussed and carry on this form to German Open where I will play this week. I will then play in Portugal and Croatia,” he said.

Pawar’s father is equally ecstatic about his son’s title.

“He was all alone this time. There was no coach, manager or teammates. It makes a lot of difference when you have the support while playing abroad. It will help him grow as a player.”

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