Saina ready for World Championships

India’s top badminton player Saina Nehwal is determined to come out of the rough patch and says she is in perfect shape for next month’s World Championships in China.

Since winning the Olympic bronze medal in the London Games, the World No.3 has hit a rough patch. Her last win was at the Denmark Open Superseries in October.

This year, Saina failed to defend her titles at the Thailand Open Grand Prix and Indonesia Open Super Series and only reached the quarterfinals at the Singapore Open.

“After the Indian Open (April), I got six weeks’ break. I was suffering from a knee injury and then again I fractured my toe. Then I couldn’t get much time to prepare for the tournament in Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore,” said Saina on the sidelines of the launch of Indian Badminton League (IBL) school programme initiative – Shuttle Express.

“I was not happy with what was happening to me. When you get injured, you are not in the best mental shape. You always have doubts. So it was a mix of lack of preparation and fitness that I performed badly in those three tournaments,” said Saina.

After the Thailand Open she dropped to No.4 but again moved up a place after rising star Ratchanok Intanon failed to participate in Indonesia and Singapore. It pushed the Hyderabadi shuttler to No.3 as only 462 points separated them before the latest rankings.

Saina pulled out of the Malaysian Open and the break has helped her get back to full fitness for the Worlds in Guangzhou, China, being held Aug 5-11.

“I had six weeks to prepare for the World Championships. Touchwood, I am now in good shape and I have worked hard for the tournament. I have improved my game and worked hard on the areas in which I needed to,” said Saina.

Saina also said that she was eagerly waiting for the inaugural IBL.

“I think it (IBL) is the best thing that happened to Indian badminton since the London Olympics. The money is good and the experience of playing with international players will be great for local players,” she said.

A start is very important. We may not get players in the first season, but who knows we will get 20, 30 players from the next season,” she said.

Asked about the absence of top Chinese players from the IBL, Saina said: “I think they are not open to such tournaments. And moreover their league and national games is also in August. But they should be open to tournaments like the IBL. However, seven of the top-10 players are playing in IBL. There is still some time and I hope some Chinese players will turn up.”

The Hyderabadi also hoped that big names will own IBL franchises.

“Big names are very important. Dhoni, Sachin all are welcome to own IBL franchises and it would be really exciting,” she said.
File Photo  : AFP