Gopi Chand: 'Tai Tzu Ying is not unbeatable'

"Saina Nehwal has been improving really well in her one-to-one clashes [with Tai Tzu Ying] given the way she was leading in the games only to lose the advantage. I don’t think Tai is unbeatable.

Tai Tzu Ying has handed Saina Nehwal defeats in 12 straight matches so far.   -  AFP

India’s chief national coach, P. Gopichand, apparently has a task cut out for now — decoding World No. 1 Tai Tzu Ying.

The Chinese Taipei girl's domination over Indian shuttlers has gained alarming proportions. Saina Nehwal, in fact, has suffered 12 straight defeats against her.  “Well, Tai is a phenomenal player, arguably one of the greatest woman shuttlers ever. The kind of power and the range of strokes she has are too good for any opponent,” Gopi says, in an exclusive chat.

“Definitely, Tai has the game to pull through from seemingly difficult situations at any level. Perhaps, this is what separates her from the rest of the crowd,” acknowledges Gopi.

“But, I must say that Saina has been improving really well in this one-to-one clashes given the way she was leading in the games only to lose the advantage. I don’t think Tai is unbeatable,” insists the coach who has taken Indian badminton to new heights on the world stage.

READ: Saina: 'You need to have complete game to beat Tai Tzu-Ying'

“Yes, we did identify on what areas Saina has to work and what are the strengths and weaknesses of the Taipei player. But, for obvious reasons, we cannot discuss it here. We are aware of the need to beat this wonderfully gifted Tai for sure,” he says.

“What should not be forgotten is that Saina has been losing only to Tai but winning consistently against some of the formidable players like Okuhara, Yamaguchi and the new Chinese girls. So, it has been a really great comeback for the Indian after the long injury break, which is never easy,” feels Gopi.

“And, the challenge for any top shuttler doesn’t begin or end only with Tai for there are quality players around like Marin too. There is a definite need and scope for all-round improvement to keep winning titles consistently,” the chief coach says.

“Worried? Yes and No, I would say. Definitely, Saina definitely needs to make some adjustments against Tai for sure. We will work out over the next few days on this. Still, l believe it is just a question of one big win for Saina against her," he says.

"But, again unfortunately, there is very little time for the players to prepare,” the former All England champion says. “For instance, the players will be back tonight and then be leaving within two days for the China, Hong Kong and the India Open events scheduled over the next three weeks and don’t have the luxury to prepare.” 

“The good thing is that Kashyap is also there with the players as a 'coach' and Saina keeps sharing her thoughts with me before the big matches. So it is not that we are letting things drift apart. There is a conscious effort to keep improving.”