‘I’m only thinking of fitness, not tournaments’: Saina Nehwal

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(From left): Saina Nehwal with Carolina Marin, P.V. Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth at the launch press conference of Yonex – Sunrise India Open 2018, in New Delhi | Photo Credit: SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR

P.V Sindhu says she is ‘working on ways to beat’ World No. 1 Tai Tzu Ying

Ahead of Wednesday’s main round action at the India Open, the former World No. 1 Saina Nehwal’s curt responses and aggressive tone left many wondering if all was well with the champion shuttler.

Responding to a supplementary question seeking the players’ view on the new cash-rich BWF tournament calendar, Saina said: “I am only thinking of fitness. Not thinking of tournaments.”

Soon, in the background of Saina’s appearance in the final of the Indonesia Masters on Sunday, she was asked, “How does it feel to be among the title-contenders this week [in the Indian Open]?” The former champion surprised all by retorting, “I have not been a favourite for a while. Now where did that [title-contender] come from?”

Though Saina made no secret of her displeasure on being asked to face the media today, she salvaged the situation a bit by being more elaborate with her last answer, on how she has been dealing with the unprecedented seven-match losing streak to the current World No. 1 Tai Tzu Ying.

“Not just me, she has beaten a lot of top players last year. That’s why she is World No. 1. In the top-10, anyone can beat anyone. It is not that she cannot be beaten,” said Saina, who has managed to win just three games out of the 17 played in their last seven encounters.

P.V. Sindhu, who lost to Tai in all four clashes after beating her in the 2016 Rio Olympics, was far more gracious in her response. “I think you could also mention that I beat her in the recent Premier Badminton League,” she said in lighter vein and continued, “I know it was a different point format. We know she is playing very well. But I am working on ways to beat her. Let’s see.”

K. Srikanth reflected on how he had to miss two Superseries events ahead of the BWF World Finals in Dubai and then the Indonesia Masters owing to leg-muscle strains, but now finds himself ready for the season.

“I think now I am fit and ready for the events ahead. I have trained for about two weeks [after the Premier Badminton league] and feeling good about by fitness,” said the World No. 3, the favourite after the pullout of top seed and World champion Viktor Axelsen.

Carolina Marin, the only player to have entered all three World Tour events this month, said, “I am playing these events because I feel comfortable in these conditions. And more importantly, I think, this is good preparation for the All England championship [in March].”

 

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