Spain's Carolina Marin has carved a niche for herself by becoming the first woman to win three World titles, the Rio Olympics gold and has virtually been unbeatable in the European championships.

The 25-year-old is the only European to feature in the BWF top rankings, which is otherwise dominated by Asian players.

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Marin, who regards Rafael Nadal as her idol and is a fan of FC Barcelona, believes that women’s badminton, especially the singles, is very open, and that the top-15 players are of the same level. She also heaped praise on Tai Tzu Ying, who Marin believes,  has been one of a kind in the last three years.

Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu has taken the women’s badminton world by storm, winning 19 titles in the BWF competitions, continental championships, World Universiade and the Asian Games.

“She (Tai) has a really good game and has many trick shots. She sustains her performance the whole year. For me, it’s difficult to keep my performance at a high level the whole year, because we have so many tournaments to play. I will try to be fit this year.”

Tokyo 2020 a tough  task

A key player for the Pune 7 Aces in the Vodafone PBL season 4, Marin said winning the Rio gold was like a dream come true, but thinks bagging the top honour in 2016 does not necessarily mean defending the title in Tokyo next year.

“What I mean is I don’t have to defend anything in Tokyo, although I would like to win the Olympic gold again. I won in Rio, but Tokyo would be a different tournament.”

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“Everyone would prepare this year and next year for the Tokyo Olympics. The Japanese will be ready because the Games are going to be played in their country. So, I know that I have to be ready for anything. Akane Yamaguchi and Nozomi Okuhara are really going to prepare hard.”

Marin also believes that the Chinese shuttlers are making rapid strides in the sport. “There are two girls — Chen Yufei and He Bingjiao — in the top-10. There are so many other Chinese girls and they are all coming up. They may not have been good at the last Olympics, but one has to see their results during the last year. They won so many tournaments.”

On PBL, Marin said: “I am happy to be playing my third PBL. It’s good for me, I get opportunities to practice with good players like Lakshya Sen and Harsheel Dani. In the PBL you can interact with other players, whereas in international tournaments, you are focused on your matches.”