I can soon be No 1: Saina

Badminton

I can soon be No 1: Saina

ACE DUO: Badminton players Saina Nehwal (left) and Jwala Gutta pose during a press meet on the eve of the Asian Championships beginning in New Delhi on Monday. PTISaina, currently ranked sixth, said she was participating in limited tournaments and is more focussed on winning titles.The 20-year-old is the top seed in the Asian Championships beginning here on Monday, and is supremely confident. “I am playing in select tournaments now and it has worked well for me. It is giving me adequate time to train and also spend quality time with my family. So when I go back to courts, I am fresh, focussed and well prepared to face the top players and the aim is to win every tournament,” Saina told reporters here on Saturday.

“This year, the focus is to do well in the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games. If I continue like this, I can be soon be the number one, hopefully.”Saina, who will play Thailand’s Porntip Buranaprasertsuk in the opening round, said playing at home will be an advantage. But there will also be pressure on her to live up to expectations.

“Even the world’s top player is under pressure to win every match. I think pressure will always be there when you are a top seed. The draw is tough. As of now, I am focussing only on the first match. I have trained really hard and I am quite confident of performing well. “I am in good shape, probably the best in my career so far. The last four-five months have been good for me. I reached the semifinals of All England Championship. My game has also improved a lot.

“It will be a tough competition. Players like Zhou Mi and Pui Yin Yip from Hong Kong will be strong contenders.”

Saina also said that the Indian team was high on confidence ahead of the tournament.
“The Indian players have had some good results recently and they will hopefully do well here. Jwala Gutta and V Diju have got the top billing in mixed doubles and they have a relatively easier draw, so I think they have a good chance of going up in the tournament.”

Saina, however, said the media should give more coverage to badminton. “We are doing so well as a team and this is the right time for the sport to get attention and grow in the country. If the young players do not get sponsorship now, it will be difficult for them to go to the next level.”

‘Tricky draw’
Saina faces a tricky draw in the championships as most of the shuttlers she is likely to play against have defeated her in the past, feels national coach Pullela Gopichand.
“It is a very tricky draw for Saina. She plays Porntip Buranaprasertsuk in the first round and Julia Pei Xian Wong in the second round. Saina has lost close matches against them in the past. So it will be tricky,” Gopichand said.

“She has to play to her full potential to beat them. If she plays even 5-10 percent below her calibre, it will be difficult for her,” he added.Gopichand feels the mixed doubles pair of Jwala Gutta and V Diju too stand a good chance to win this tournament considering their draw.

“They have a good chance to win this one. If Diju plays to his true potential, they should be on a roll. They are India’s best chances in the ABC,” Gopichand said.“Chetan pulled out with a knee injury and it is a little setback for us but it has left the draw open for Anup and if the conditions in the Siri Fort stadium favour the Indians, he should reach the quarters safely. Arvind should also do well here,” he said.

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