Destination London

Well, Saina Nehwal is already in the preparatory mood within hours after reaching Hyderabad after her Swiss Open triumph and she means business in the big events like the ABC Championship and the India Open ahead of the London Olympics. “I am ready for the Olympics,” says the confident player. Over to V. V. Subrahmanyam.

Saina Nehwal is a huge admirer of batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar. By a striking coincidence, while Sachin took exactly a year (after his 99th ton) to score his 100th international century, champion shuttler Saina too ended her year-long title-drought when she retained the Swiss Open Grand Prix title defeating Asian Games and former All-England champion Shixian Wang in the final 21-19, 21-16.

So, not surprisingly, the 22-year-old Saina said that Sachin's “incredible feat” was a huge inspiration for her in keeping the Swiss Open title. “If you remember, I was playing the semi-final the day when Sachin reached his landmark. I must thank him for inspiring me,” said the World No. 4 who returned to Hyderabad.

“Well, I do consider this Swiss Open win as very significant as it came from an edition which featured many Chinese players unlike in the past when many critics played down my title-triumph,” said Saina.

Interestingly, Saina insists that there is a big change in her game — if not drastic in terms of technique, but definitely in approach. “I am a lot more relaxed and focussed. Not getting excited anymore by thinking too much about winning,” she said.

India's best-known face in contemporary world badminton also makes it a point to stress that she is aware of the huge challenge ahead — the 2012 London Olympics.

“Yes, Gopi Sir and me are working on a lot of things to counter the Chinese threat. I think the Swiss Open was a reminder of our changed strategy. Anyhow, I am trying to work on strokes to take on the Chinese since we have already studied in detail as to how those girls were getting the better of me till now,” explained Saina.

“Yes, definitely the All-England was a bit of a disappointment, for I felt that this time around I had the best ever preparation. Well, you need some luck sometimes to keep winning such big titles,” said a smiling Saina.

Like always, Saina brushed aside the pressure factor brought on by the high expectations of her being the best medal hope from India in badminton.

“I think I am getting used to all these things. For me, the more important thing is how well I prepare myself in this big year of Olympics. Definitely, the Swiss Open win is a huge morale-booster ahead of the mega sporting event in London,” she said.

“Yes, me and Gopi Sir are aware that the Chinese always keep an eye on all my matches. I look at it as some sort of a compliment and also a reminder that I have to keep mastering the ability to surprise them with my gameplan,” said the articulate Saina.

Well, that Saina is already in the preparatory mood within hours after reaching Hyderabad is an indication that she means business in the big events like the ABC Championship and the India Open ahead of the London Olympics. “I am ready for the Olympics,” signed off the confident player.