Tokyo will be tougher than last 3 Games: Saina

Last Updated 01 January 2020, 12:00 IST

India's ace shuttler Saina Nehwal says the badminton competition at next year's Olympics will be tougher than the last three Games and she is working on fitness and improving her game in the run-up to the showpiece event in Tokyo.

Saina has been troubled by injuries of late. After her knee surgery in 2016, she has been striving hard to return to her peak form. She was World No. 1 for a brief period in 2015.

"Yes, it (competition in 2020 Olympics) will be much tougher (than earlier three editions). The Chinese shuttlers are playing really well. More than them, a lot of other girls are playing very well. It is going to be very tough," Saina told PTI.

"But as of now, I'm not thinking about Olympics or about how I will qualify for it. I am thinking more about doing well in tournaments, improving my game and keeping myself injury free and fit," Saina said.

For India to send two shuttlers in Tokyo Olympics women's singles, both of them will have to be inside top 16 in the world rankings which will be released after the end of qualification period, on April 30, 2020.

Saina skipped the India Open in New Delhi after she developed pancreas infection during the All England Championships earlier this month.

"I am coming out of a pancreas infection and I am planning to play Malaysia Open next week. Let's see how it happens," she said.

Asked if she is happy with what has panned out after the surgery in 2016, she said: "I am fighting, trying to improve my game and win as many matches as possible. That is what I can do and the rest I don't know because I cannot predict results.

"I'm happy I am being able to win a few tournaments. I did well in CWG (won gold), Asian Games (bronze), Denmark Open (finalist) and in Indonesia Masters (Champion). There were results that kept me."

The cramped badminton calendar following the Badminton World Federation's decision, which requires top players to feature in at least 12 out of 15 tournaments a year, has been criticised by many shuttlers.

Saina said she had also taken up the issue with the global governing body but to no avail.

"Our body cannot take so many tournaments in a year. Finally, it is a body and not a machine, so it is tough but you have to find ways to be fit for most of the tournaments. We (some players) told last year that the calendar can be smaller and money can be bigger in these tournaments. Make it like tennis, like how they have four Grand Slams," she said.

(Published 31 March 2019, 13:16 IST)

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