Saina: 'It is a different kind of challenge when you play against Sindhu'

Commonwealth Games singles gold medallist Saina Nehwal said she felt blessed to be part of the Indian team which won the "historic" mixed team event gold at the just-concluded CWG in Gold Coast.

Gold medallist Saina Nehwal at a press conference in Hyderabad on Tuesday.   -  PTI

Commonwealth Games singles gold medallist Saina Nehwal said she felt blessed to be part of the Indian team which won the "historic" mixed team event gold at the just-concluded CWG in Gold Coast.

In an interaction at Gopi Academy here on Tuesday, Saina gave credit to the mixed doubles combination of Ashwini Ponnappa and R. Satwiksairaj for ensuring a grand start to the team’s campaign in the final against Malaysia.

“Well, it is a matter of great pride to win the last gold for India in the 2010 edition in Delhi and also in the 2018 Games in Gold Coast. I am really pleased with the way my body has responded to the gruelling schedule right through the Games,” she said.

“Honestly, I had to challenge myself and my body to give consistent performances and I am grateful to Gopi Sir, the physios and Siyadutt (assistant coach Md Siyadatullah) for helping me in my warm-up sessions and the entire support staff with special thanks to Christopher Pedra (sports medicine expert),” Saina said.

The champion shuttler did hint that she was scared of facing too many questions if she were to lose to P.V. Sindhu in the singles final and even sought the support of her friend P. Kashyap, father Dr. Harvir Singh (who was there in the Games) before the final.

"Frankly, I don’t want to lose to anyone. Be it Sindhu or any of the top players.  I think even Sindhu thinks the same way. You will be surprised that I am, perhaps, the only one who enters the court without any strategy."

 

“I told them about the kind of feelings because of the expectations I was going through before that match. Told them that I am a bit worried about the possible barrage of questions if I were to lose that game. And Kashyap suggested that I just give off my best and leave the rest. That really worked and I was able to pull it off,” she revealed.

On the team event and the demanding schedule with an injured Sindhu rested, Saina said she was very keen not give Gopi a chance to question her if she failed in her pursuit of excellence. “It was taxing both mentally and physically but I really enjoyed right through,” she said. 

“Frankly, I don’t want to lose to anyone. Be it Sindhu or any of the top players.  I think even Sindhu thinks the same way. You will be surprised that I am, perhaps, the only one who enters the court without any strategy. I just focus on giving off my best as the results will automatically follow that,” she explained.

On the rivalry with Sindhu, Saina said what was important for her was that two Indians were there in the final and that it was India which was going to win the gold. 

“Let me also tell you that the pressure was there on every Indian player in the CWG — be it junior or seniors — because of the expectations. So, it was imperative for all of us to give our best,” she said.

“Yes, it is a different kind of challenge when you play against Sindhu who trains in the same Academy. We see each other everyday. So it was a great feeling that both of us were there in the final,” she said.

For her part, Sindhu said it was an intense match and also a proud moment for both the finalists.

“We have this on-court rivalry but once the match is over, we just focus on the next big match or the event. We have to keep moving on for only one can win a final,” she said with a big smile.