HYDERABAD: The smile is back on Saina Nehwal’s face. The badminton star was accorded a warm welcome at the Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy on Tuesday afternoon upon her return from Basel where she retained the Swiss Open Grand Prix.
“It had been a year since I won a major tournament. In Basel last year, there were whispers that I won because there were no Chinese players. But this time, the Chinese had come with top players, including second seed Shixian Wang, and I could beat them. It gives immense satisfaction to beat a Chinese player in the final,” said a visibly happy Saina.
The star, who celebrated her 22nd birthday on Saturday, said it did frustrate her when she could not win any tournament other than Swiss Open throughout last year . “It did hurt. I was in good form but somehow could not win a single title apart from the Swiss Open. Even Sachin Tendulkar had to wait for one year after scoring his 99th century in the World Cup. That happens to all sportspersons,’’ she reasoned.
The city girl admitted that there was a lot of pressure and an ankle injury too had bothered her last year.
“There was pressure to win. I had to control my mind. Secondly, the ankle injury too bothered me a lot. Now, all that is over and this title win at Swiss Open can act as a catalyst in the Olympic year,” she hoped.
Chastened by experience, Saina said she had learnt to be patient. “I’m aware that whenever I play, there will be a lot of expectations. Somtimes, it acts like a double-edged weapon. It motivates you and at the same time, there is a bit of pressure,” she observed.
The world number five has been working hard with coach Gopichand and will be playing in five more tournaments before the London Olympics.
“I will take part in the ABC, India Open, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore Super Series tournaments. It will give me a fair idea of my form and I’m sure that I am on the right track,” she said.