Saina: ‘Rituparna is close to the big rungs but girls need to believe in themselves’

About her own career, Saina — who had a knee surgery late last year — said that once she starts winning, her confidence would be back.

Saina Nehwal after opening the Yonex ‘Sports Hub’ near the Regional Sports Centre in Kochi.   -  Special Arrangement

A quick glance at the Indian women in the world badminton rankings gives one the impression that there is a huge missing link below the top ten.

After P.V. Sindhu, the current World No. 4, and No. 9 Saina Nehwal, there is a big gap and the next Indian is Rituparna Das at No. 48.

That is not the case in the men’s world rankings where the Indians are much closer to each other though there is none in the world’s top 10 with No. 13 Ajay Jayaram being the best.

So, what is happening to our women? Are not they working hard enough? Who are the girls among the younger lot who could make it to big time?

“I wanted to be the World No. 1 and I did that, the belief has to come from within you,” said Saina Nehwal, the star who started it all for women by winning Indian badminton’s first Olympic medal at the 2012 London Games, after opening the Yonex ‘Sports Hub’ near the Regional Sports Centre here on Sunday evening.

“It’s not that they are no quality players or that they cannot play at the highest level. But yes, sometimes, it is not easy because all the players are very, very tough.”

Saina feels that Rituparna Das, who won her maiden senior National title earlier this year, has it in her to make it big.

“You have to gain some experience before you start climbing the big rungs, Rituparna is close enough, Ruthvika (Shivani) too,” said the former World No. 1.

“Rituparna is good in her technique, she just needs to improve on her strength. There are four to five players who are good.”

About her own career, Saina — who had a knee surgery late last year — said that once she starts winning, her confidence would be back.

She has three tournaments lined up, the Thailand Grand Prix Gold (from May 30), the Indonesia Open Super Series Premier (June 12) and Australian Super Series (June 20) to get back to winning ways. And she feels that opting out of the Sudirman Cup, which began in Australia’s Gold Coast on Sunday, would do her a world of good.

“Basically, I opted out of the Sudirman Cup because my father was having a surgery and I wanted to be around him. It is a good time for training as well, I could give more conditioning to my knee and strengthen it,” said Saina.

“Thailand is just next week and I have Indonesia and Australia, so let’s see how I do well in them. The practice sessions are good and am feeling better. It’s just a win that is important to regain your confidence so I’m just sort of putting things in place for that.”

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