New Delhi, April 26 (IANS) England's chief coach Jakob Hoi has hailed Pullela Gopichand for changing the Indian badminton scene and is all praise for the country's Olympic bronze medallist Saina Nehwal.
Talking to IANS, Hoi said Indian badminton owes its success to Gopichand, an All-England Champion.
The Englishman feels Indian badminton has grown rapidly in the last 10 years because youngsters now have great role models in Gopichand and Saina.
"Indian badminton has improved dramatically in the last five years. Since the 2009 World Championships in Hyderabad, some good players have emerged. India have a good crop of players in singles, especially in men's. Gopichand has been the difference in the last 10 years with his standout coaching and game style. I think he is the one who has really made the impact in Indian badminton," Hoi told IANS.
Hoi, who is here with the English team at the $200,000 India Open Super Series, said Gopichand has changed the way Indians are playing the game now and have the killer instinct. The players are more aggressive, quick and rely on heavy smashes.
"About 15 years back, India used to have two average players in singles at the international scene. Now you have about six in top 50 of men's singles which is great for any country. Indian players have become faster, more aggressive, they run more, hit heavy smashes, and their endurance has increased. They don't play the typical old style of Indian badminton," said Hoi, who was formerly the national coach of Germany.
Hoi lauded World No.2 Saina Nehwal saying that she has a solid overall game.
"Saina has a very solid game and she sticks to the basics. She recovers well, does not pressurise herself, has strong arms and thighs which are very important for this sport," said Hoi.
Hoi said Saina is not afraid to create chances.
"She knows how to create chances like which shot to take when during a match. She is not afraid to take the initiative which is the case with many Indian shuttlers. For example, she knows she is not the best at the net but still knows how to tackle drops. Her smashes are not scary but are always very accurate. Overall, she has a very good game," added Hoi.
"Her fitness is great and her ability to manoeuvre around the court is also good. She has the deception in her game and her overall stroke play is great, committing lesser mistakes. I have a lot of respect for her," said Hoi.
Hoi said the way Indians are playing now is a refreshing break from their style 10 years back.
"Well, 10 years back they would hit clear drop shots. Their game was more about recovery, sustenance, and survival. That killer instinct was missing. Gopichand as a player stood out and he still remains the standout as a coach. Like you saw (H.S.) Prannoy beat Taufik Hidayat. He (Prannoy) was aggressive with his game. These things make a huge impact internationally," he said.
Hoi, however, was not impressed with the doubles scene in the country.
"The doubles scene is not great. I don't see much growth. Okay, Jwala (Gutta) and Ashwini (Ponnappa) won a couple of medals but apart from that there has been no consistency and no impact. They lack power and wisdom of the sport. V. Diju has wisdom but he is lazy. The doubles players need to be trained better," said Hoi.