Pune, Nov 1: Pleasure watching Guru Sai Dutt, who became the first Indian boy to reach the semifinals of the World Junior Championships. Yesterday was another long battle, where he got the better of Korea’s Park Sung Min.
Guru is from the Gopichand school;he plays a style that was successfully employed by the 2001 All England champion. Primarily, given his short physical stature, the emphasis is on a stout defence and retrieval abilities, but using the first opportunity to attack. The thinking is that you can’t prevent the others (Koreans, Chinese, Danes) from hitting hard, but you stay in the rally with the help of your defence. I’d watched a training session at Gachibowli in August, where Guru and Saina were being peppered with smashes and they kept retrieving.
But Guru also has a basically beautiful, tactical game, good speed, a superb slow drop, and to that he has added a smash that he uses sparingly. One doesn’t see him with the deception of Chetan Anand or his compatriot Aditya Prakash, or the depth of toss that might enable him to use all the corners of the court. The emphasis is on quickness and finishing the rally early, but he also has the ability to last tough three-setters.
What is good to see about his is that he seems to have gone beyond the limits dictated by his size. Since he can’t use his height to bring in steep smashes, he has worked on a high jump and deft placement, rather than pure power. Mentally he is very tough, he seems to hang in there even when the game appears lost, and he finds a way to gain quick points. All in all, he appears a good package.
I return to the hotel by 9.30. Just in time for an NDTV interview of Saina and Gopi. “The important thing is to maintain your routine irrespective of whatever happens around you,” Gopi’s saying.
That’s really the key to success, at least in competitive sport.