CHENNAI: India’s badminton ace Saina Nehwal lost almost a month to a gastroenteritis problem. She played the All England Open quarterfinal against World No 1 Tai Tzu Ying through pain earlier in March.
Immediately after losing the match 15-21, 19-21 to her opponent, she shared news of her illness through her social media account and informed that she had been advised hospitalisation. Subsequent treatment meant the World No 9 had to skip upcoming tournaments including the Swiss Open and the India Open, ending the month on a frustrating note.
The 2012 Olympic bronze medallist, however, is ready to hit the court soon with her doctors happy with her recovery. “Doctors reported that I am improving a lot and will be alright soon. I too feel good after the treatment. I believe I am ready to participate in the Malaysia Open and Singapore Open,” Saina told this newspaper. The Malaysia Open is scheduled in Kuala Lumpur from April 2 to 7 followed by the Singapore Open from April 9 to 14.
Injuries have hampered Saina’s progress time and again. A knee injury she suffered ahead of the Rio Olympics in 2016 had almost ended her career. She underwent surgery in August the same year and fought back to recover and win the Malaysia Open next year.
The Hyderabadi shuttler, however, prefers to stay positive instead of fretting over injuries. “I’m doing well. Nothing to worry,” Saina replied on being questioned regarding injuries and the subsequent lay-offs.
She though admitted that it’s frustrating but asserted she is recovering quite well. “If you’re healthy nothing can stop you. After all, health is wealth,” she added.
With the 2020 Tokyo Olympics qualification looming, the 29-year-old shuttler prefers to wait and watch instead of worrying about the future. “The year has just started. I just wish to do well in the days to come and leave everything on results.”
She thanked physio Chris Pedra for helping her recover from injuries and believed physios are playing an integral part in sportspersons’ life these days.
“It’s good that every player gets help from a physio nowadays. It’s the same with me. Pedra is very experienced and I have benefitted a lot,” she admitted.
The national champion has criticised the cramped international calendar in the past and she still feels the hectic schedule takes a toll on players’ performance. “Too much of load will have a toll on a player’s performance. It also renders a player vulnerable and makes him or her prone to injuries.”
The shuttler, however, did not see much in 13 consecutive losses to Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu and blamed her illness for her recent loss in the All England Open. “I was playing against her (Tai Tzu) in acute pain but I gave her a good fight. It was 19-all in the second game,” Saina justified.
Praising Kashyap, the coach
Saina had termed her marriage to fellow player Parupalli Kashyap as ‘the best match of her life’. She strongly believes that her performance has improved ever since her marriage in December last year. “My performance after marriage has been fantastic. I played Malaysia Masters semifinal, won a gold medal at the Indonesia Open and reached quarters of the All England,” she said.
Saina says nothing has changed in the duo’s lives. “We’re thinking positive to move ahead. We’re concentrating on our respective games in the same way as the past.”Of late, Kashyap has started foraying into coaching and even stayed by Saina’s side on match days. “He (Kashyap) is a very good player and showing great results after recovering from injury. He’s a good coach too. His plans (of coaching) depend on his results in the near future,” she said.
The two-time World Championship medallist — silver in 2015 and bronze in 2017 — is optimistic of India’s future in the sport and expressed full faith in the ability of up and coming shuttlers to keep the country’s flying high at the international level. “A lot of promising players are coming up in badminton these days. We have good academies where these youngsters can be trained by some of the world’s best coaches. I see a bright future for badminton in India,” she concluded.