Saina hoping to end Indian Open jinx

A fit-again Saina Nehwal is eager to put behind an injury plagued 2013 and turn a new corner with the Yonex Sunrise India Open, a tournament she has not won thus far in her career.

The top Indian woman shuttler says she has trained well and is confident of asserting herself in front of the home fans.
 
Injuries saw Saina’s ranking plummet to World No 8 from No 2 but she has taken it in her stride. Ahead of the India Open, where in the past she has made a string of early exits, she was raring to go against the best in the business. “I am fit and well trained this time. I will show my worth this season in a right manner. Injuries are bound to occur when you play a game like badminton because you have to be fit for each minute of every encounter,” Saina told Deccan Herald.

“I had a busy schedule (in the) previous year and sustained an injury which affected my movements. To remain on peak conditioning is difficult. I am not bothered about the home crowd. I lost to very good players in the past editions. Sometimes nerves do get the better of you but I feel I am ready to give my best.”

The meet, which begins at Siri Fort Sports Complex from April 1, boasts of a quality field this season but Saina is not ruffled. “The line-up is the same which was in All England and Swiss Open. It depends on a player's fitness on that particular day. Many a time a three-game encounter makes one player tired the next day even if it is against an easy opponent. I am well prepared for it,” she said.

Snapping at Saina’s heels is the promising PV Sindhu, who is now only a rung below her at No 9 in the world rankings. Though Sindhu is yet to score a victory over Saina, fans look forward to their contests. If all goes well, Saina is tipped to meet Sindhu in the semifinals. “That won’t be a problem. The expectations rise when two players are ranked same in a country. Let us see how I will perform against her. But I will give my best in every match irrespective of my opponent.”

The calendar for the season will be cramped and include the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games, where she is the defending champion and Saina said she hopes to be injury free “Commonwealth Games and Asian Games are both very important events. My focus will be to remain injury free. I am training very hard with Gopi sir (Pullela Gopichand). I will play to defend my CWG gold. I hope to remain injury free this season,” she said.

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