Back after a break - The New Indian Express

Back after a break

Published: 11th October 2012 05:11 PM

Last Updated: 11th October 2012 05:12 PM

It’s back to business. After eight weeks to recu­­p­­erate from an injury on her left leg, a rejuvenated Saina N­ehwal will resume her international campaign at the Denm­a­rk Super Series tournament in Odense from October 16-21. T­his has been one of the longest breaks from the game in her ca­reer.

After her bronze medal at the London Games, she skipped tw­o Super Series tournaments. Post-Olympics, she has been bu­sy attending felicitation functions and even a sortie in an Ai­r Force trainee jet. The 22-year-old Saina was back on the co­­urts at the Pullela Gopichand Academy four we­e­ks back, preparing for year-end tournaments. “I had taken a five-week break earlier but this br­eak was my longest. The tournament in Od­ense is a premier one and I can’t skip it,” sa­ys Saina, who leaves for Denmark on Satu­r­day. Excerpts from an interview…

Returning to competition: It will be diffi­c­ult after such a long break. There will be a few bu­tterflies in the stomach. The first match will be cr­ucial.

Preparing for the Olymp­i­cs and Super Series tournaments: One has to be be­­tter prepared for major to­­u­rnaments. There is more in­tensity among the players.

Relief after an Olympic me­dal: Yes, there is a sense of relief and I will be able to pl­ay with more freedom. Th­­e­re will be no major changes t­o my game. A few matches wi­­ll improve my fitness level. By the time the Commonwe­­a­lth and Asian Games come u­p in 2014, I need to further im­prove my fitness.

Rise in expectations: Of co­urse, expectations will rise af­ter the Olympic medal. I like w­inning and that will be my priority. But it is also a nice fe­eling that everyone wants to be Saina Nehwal and more pe­ople want to play badminton.

Improving her ranking: It is diff­i­cult to break into the top two this year as there are on­ly four or five tournaments to go, but I hope to br­­eak into the top 3 in the rankings.

The Chinese threat: They come well prepared and, overall, dominate world badminton. They ha­ve so many top players that if you get past on­e, there will be another waiting. It happe­n­ed to PV Sindhu, who beat Li Xuerui but th­en went down to Jiang Yanjiao in the Ch­­­ina Su­per Series.

Endorsement deals and sponsporship: When yo­u pl­ay well, endorsements fol­­low. Sp­­onsorship-wise I’m h­appy to be among the top badminton pl­­­­ayers in the world, in Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei’s league.

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