Khanna said that Natekar was so versatile that he could vary his game according to his opponent's style of play and called it “phenomenal”.
The 84th birthday of Indian badminton great Nandu Natekar was celebrated on Friday by the Legends’ Club at the Cricket Club of India, during which former Asian men's singles champion Dinesh Khanna recalled his association and on-court battles with Natekar. Khanna, who won the Asian title in 1965, the year in which Natekar retired from the shuttle game, after winning his sixth national men's singles title, said he started to imbibe how to excel in backhand after seeing Natekar and another ace, Trilok Nath Seth, battle it out for the national title in 1956 in the final.
“I was impressed with the fluency, power of Natekar’s backhand and his footwork when I saw him playing as a junior against T.N. Seth in the 1956 Delhi Nationals. Then I decided to develop my backhand which later became an important part of my game,” said the Punjab-born Khanna.
Khanna said that Natekar was so versatile that he could vary his game according to his opponent's style of play and called it “phenomenal”. “His game was poetry in motion. Its unfortunate that we don’t have any visuals of his fluent stroke execution for posterity,” said Khanna, a retired civil engineer by profession.
Natekar, said that one of the players he feared was Khanna and recalled how he was able to avoid playing against Khanna in the 1965 nationals at the Bombay Gymkhana. “I had already decided to call it a day after the 1965 national and did not want Dinesh to be in my half of the draw. Dinesh was one player I was always scared of because of his tight defense and his accuracy,” said Natekar, the first Indian to win an international badminton title in 1956 at Selangor, Malaysia.