Too many tournaments a worry for Saina

Ace India shuttler Saina Nehwal is slowly getting into the groove after recuperating from a knee injury; stress, tight calendar and lack of BWF World Tour titles is still a concern for Indian badminton, she says.

Ace India shuttler Saina Nehwal at a promotional event in Mumbai on Thursday.   -  PTI

Saina Nehwal reiterated Pullela Gopichand’s view that this year has been tough for the Indian shuttlers. While they have had success in the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games, BWF World Tour titles have eluded them.

“Throughout the year, there were so many tournaments and we did not even have time to rest and think about the next event,” Saina said on the sidelines of a promotional event here on Thursday.

“We had the Commonwealth Games, then in five-ten days, we had the Asian Championships, then in another couple of months, we had the Asian Games and the World Championships. It is not easy. At times, you don’t feel like playing."

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“We always need to keep in mind what people may say and what the coach may think. The stress is so much than no matter how much a player tries to reach semis or quarters, at times, you get fatigued."

She is happy to have won medals in both Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games. “I am very proud that I could bring medals in both the tournaments — something that every player dreams of. It comes once in four years and it gives you such relief (to beat big players). It is not easy that you will win the next tournament,” Saina stated.

“I know what people think and how they write about performances of Indian players. I can understand the situation of (PV) Sindhu, (Kidambi) Srikanth…we have played so many tournaments that it gets to the body and mind.

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“It’s not easy to continue back-to-back. You need a break. The calender is such that there are 17-18 tournaments a year and it’s so challenging. There is no time to even correct yourself,” the bronze medallist at the London Olympics, pointed out.

The corrections mostly happen in between the tournaments, “in the five-ten days that you get.”

The effect of PBL

Talking about the lack of time in between tournaments, she said, "It’s not that you are getting some longer months to prepare yourself and get your body alright for the next tournament. Then you have the Premier Badminton League as well, which is starting on December 22, so where’s the time to even think about yourself? So, it gets a little tough for the players but we are trying to adjust to it. Obviously, next year won’t be as tough because we don’t have Asian Games or CWG. But then, it will be the year before the Olympics, you have to be ready for all the challenges and you have to maintain rankings so that you can qualify, that will be challenging."

Saina had to settle for silver in the Syed Modi tennis tournament in Lucknow last week, but she saw that as a positive.

Saina Nehwal in action at the Syed Modi International Badminton.   -  PTI

 

“If I see from last year, there is so much of improvement (this time). After the surgery which I had, my movements had become really slow. This year, I could win medals and I am happy that I could change my game and my movement. There are still injuries here and there but it is getting me out of trouble situations and I am able to beat some top players and I am happy."

The role of the coach

The champion shuttler also highlighted the importance of finding the right coach for clarity in vision.

“Ever since childhood, the coaches have supported me and they have taught me everything and I could not even dream of taking the podium in the Olympics and emerge as World No.1. That time badminton was not at all big and people would think that Chinese, Koreans and the Japanese would win but then Gopi sir won All England championship and then, we changed our mindset that even the Indians can also be the best in the world.

India shuttlers P.V. Sindhu (left) and Saina Nehwal with national coach Pullela Gopichand.   -  FILE PHOTO/K.V.S. GIRI

 

“You need improvement in stamina, speed, food corrections and maintaining diet — all these things are important, so for me, coach’s role is very important to maintain all these aspects. With the help of Vimal (Kumar) sir, Gopi sir, I could achieve so much,” she said.

While she gets ready for the PBL, Saina is also caught up with her wedding preparations. She is set to tie the knot with Indian shuttler and her old friend, Parupalli Kashyap, in Hyderabad on December 16.