New Delhi: At 26, Anand Pawar has seen a lot of lows in his career and at the India Open 2013, the Mumbaikar had his moment recording career best showing at a Super Series reaching the semi-finals. It was by no means an easy draw for the Indian. He had to stave off challenges from world number 19 Takuma Ueda of Japan, third seed Yun Hu of Hong Kong and the highly rated Ajay Jayaram of India. Pawar lost the semi-final to the sixth seed Kenichi Tago of Japan 21-16, 21-11.
Pawar has been there and been shuffling in the 40s and 50s in men's singles ranking for two years now and every time he felt he could push on, injuries pulled him back seeing others go over him in the rankings. .
"In 2009, I had a slip disk while playing Peter Gade and was out for three months.By that time people had gone ahead and you fall into a slump in that situation. After that you need double the amount of time and effort to get back. And to play your 100 per cent without worrying about anything is quite tough", said Pawar talking about his injuries.
"In 2011 again, I tore my ligament in the right foot at the French Open and that was another 2-3 months. After such a setback you have to get up and start from scratch. That is the part of the game and these two injuries were really the reason I was not able to break into rankings and moreover men's singles is very competitive."
The 26-year-old who has been training with his father from an early age decided to move to Denmark hoping to hone his skills by playing in the Danish league. After six years playing for the Aarhus badminton club in Denmark and training under the legendary Morten Frost, who was in the top three for 12 years, Pawar decided to move back to India and train under his father again. Within a week of shifting his base to Mumbai, Pawar has now recorded his best ever showing in a Super Series.
"I was in Denmark for 5-6 years and was training there with former world number one Morten Frost and was very impressed by me. Then I got an opportunity to play for the Aarhus badminton club. That was my base for six years, but I have been coming and going."
Being in Denmark, Pawar got the international exposure and a chance to play in the European tourneys more often. "It is like any club league playing there, in a way it is good that I am able to compete in the European tournaments. I did not play in the first year, I only trained and in 2008, I got a contract with Aarhus badminton club."
But, living away from home, alone, got taxing on the Mumbaikar which prompted him to shift his base back to his father. "I think German Open was my last match and I had trouble dealing with the weather, culture there and as a player to live there alone is quite taxing. So I am back in Mumbai," added Pawar. .
Reflecting on the very impressive India Open that Pawar was hopeful that this would take his career to a new direction. "This has been my best career result for me, beating top 20, and it worked out against the third seed as well. Match against Jayram too was very good for me. The home conditions really helped and pressure is not really on me, I just go out and play."
About the semi-final game, Pawar said: "He (Tago) played a clever game. My game plan was to get up and pushing pace from the back and and move forward, but the shuttle seemed to be a bit slow, so it was difficult to play as compared to other two days. In the first 11 points I did not realise that the conditions were different and once I realised, it was too late. I had to figure out what the condition were in the first 5-6 points. I did not do that."
"A quarterfinal was my best result and to do one step better is always good. Pretty happy with this one and it was a good opportunity to take it to the final. I would be taking this form to the next tournament and hope to get better with my results."
With base shifted to Mumbai, Pawar does face the issue of not getting enough facilities to practice. "It is difficult in Mumbai, because there is nobody to play against and I do get a sparring partner to practice. There are couple of good juniors around here but you need someone as good as you to get better".
"I am hardly home for a week now, but probably will have to switch between camps in Mumbai, Hyderabad and other places to keep myself going."
After a great result here at the Indian Open 2013, Anand Pawar would very well be hoping to keep himself going.