Need to be in top shape to face Chinese: Saina
Hyderabad: Her morale is sky-high after back-to-back titles but ace Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal on Tuesday said apart from being confident she would also have to be in "top shape" physically to outwit the formidable Chinese in next month`s Olympics. Saina won the Thailand Open Grand Prix Gold badminton tournament in Bangkok earlier this month before claiming the Indonesia Open Super Series title in Jakarta last week.
The Indian said the wins could not have come at a better time as they reinstated her hope of winning a medal in the London Games. "I really needed to prepare hard before the Olympics and the two wins (in Bangkok and Jakarta) are a big boost for me. I am very happy to win the Indonesia Open for the third time," Nehwal said during a felicitation function organised by the Andhra Pradesh Sports Ministry at the Pullela Gopichand Academy here in Hyderabad, capital of India`s southern Andhra Pradesh state.
Asked abut her preparations for next month`s sporting extravaganza, the world number five said, "We will have a special programme for the Olympics. It`ll be a tough 4-5 weeks for me. So, it is important to be in good shape and injury free before the Olympics because the courts there will be slow." Saina defeated world number four Shixian Wang (in quarter-finals) and world number three Xuerui Li (in final), both from China, en route to her Indonesia Open title, and the Indian exuded confidence of doing well in the London Games.
"I am happy that I did well against the Chinese in these tournaments. The Chinese are tough players and they fight for each and every point. It is not easy to beat them but a medal in the Olympics is not impossible," she said. Asked about the pressure of expectations in Olympics, Saina said, "Olympics is Olympics and pressure will always be there. So, I don`t want to think about it." Saina also refused to give much importance to world rankings, saying that winning titles is what matters for her.
"Rankings hardly matter to me. I know if I play well, I will be number one someday. Winning tournaments matters for me," the Indian insisted. Saina also rated the energy-sapping one hour and 36 minutes quarter-final duel against Shixian in Indonesia Open as the one of the toughest matches of her career. "The quarter-final match itself was a memorable one. We were all dead on the court. But, I`m glad I pulled off the match.
"It was probably the longest match in the history of women`s singles. It was undoubtedly the longest match of my career. It was a three-setter and the win really gave me confidence," she said. For Saina, Jakarta has been a happy hunting ground as she has played in four consecutive finals of Indonesia Open, winning three of them. "I feel like a champion when I enter Indonesia`s courts. Jakarta is lucky for me as I have won so many matches there," she said.