Saina Nehwal has never really tried to decode as to why she has enjoyed a higher success rate against arch-rival PV Sindhu, whom she considers as just another opponent.
London Olympics bronze medallist Saina has a 3-1 head-to-head record in the international matches against Rio Games silver medallist Sindhu, including the win in the Commonwealth Games final.
“It’s not about me playing against Sindhu or any other opponent. I just take her (Sindhu) as any other opponent. I have issues with some of the players but I am comfortable playing against some of them. May be my game is more suited while playing against them. But I don’t know how it happened but it is happening on the court,” Saina said.
She was speaking to reporters at the sidelines of a felicitation function of the Commonwealth Games medal winning shuttlers by the Badminton Association of India.
“I keep working on my areas of weakness. I want to think that I am better than my opponent but actually that is not. May be Sindhu or any other player in the world, all are very dangerous at the moment. I have to be always careful and be alert about the mistakes I had done in matches against them.”
Saina was part of the mixed event gold winning team and then clinched another yellow metal in the women’s singles where she defeated Sindhu in the final in straight games.
After that, she won a bronze in the Asian Badminton Championships in China after losing to Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei in semifinals.
Asked if the badminton fans are seeing the Saina of the old, she said, “I am playing very well, don’t know of old (or not). But this is winning me medals.”
Talking about the upcoming Asian Games, she said India should do better than earlier editions as all the top players are currently in great form.
“Asian Games is going to be tougher than the CWG, it is almost the same level as Olympics. It is going to be difficult but all of us are playing very well at the moment and our confidence is really high. It depends on the draw also. But I think the performance should be better this time,” she said.
The star shuttler gave a lot a credit to her physio Christopher Pedra, who was roped in after the Indonesia Open in January.
“I am feeling the difference happening in my strength and I can move much freely on the court now. The niggles are less now than the one and half months to two months back. He (Christopher) has played a great part off the court as regards to strength and conditioning. The amount of strength I am having now, I never thought I would be able to move on the court like what I am doing now. It was very challenging for me to come out of that hip and knee issues that I had and there were a lot of areas of weakness on my legs. The moment he came in there was a lot of improvement in my strength. I can now play much easier.”
Saina described world number one Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei to whom she lost in the Asian Badminton Championships last month as a tricky and deceptive player.
“She is very tricky and not a simple player. She will make you mad If you are not strong enough. If you are playing 20 shots rally, you will get at least 17 shots from her which are going to be good flicks with hand stopping movements. You will be stopping and moving all the time on court. This stopping and moving is very difficult and I will say you will be tired in two games,” said Saina.
Talking about her loss to Tai Tzu in the ABC, she said, “It was a matter of last two points when she was a little bit more aggressive and I did not realise that. Her aggression suddenly changed in the last two points. That was what happened in both the games. I was leading in both the games. I should have been more alert in the last few points.
“I have learnt my lessons and I hope I will do better against her in the future matches. She is really smart and I found it this time that she really wants to do well in the last few points.”
Asked about the planned biopic in which Shraddha Kapoor will play the role of Saina on screen, she said, “It is good to see a movie coming out based on a sportsperson and it is going to make badminton more popular and inspire more people. When an actor plays a role of a sportsperson, it is going to be very challenging. With the kind of hardwork, she is putting in, I think she will be able to pull it off.”