Saina to take on Chinese dominance at World Badminton

August 24th, 2010 - 9:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Paris, Aug 24 (IANS) India’s star shuttler Saina Nehwal will challenge Chinese supremacy in the game when she begins her campaign in the World Badminton Championships against Hsiao Huan Chen of Chinese Taipei (Taiwan) at the Pierre de Coubertin stadium here Wednesday.
World No.2 and second seeded Saina, who got a bye in the first round like World No.65 Chen, has defeated her twice, but she is not leaving anything to chance.

“Reputations will take a backseat and you have to be at your best in every match to move up.

“World rankings, too, don’t matter. Personally, I would love to be the world champion and still be World No.2 rather than being World No.1 and not be the champion,” Saina was quoted as saying on the Badminton World Federation website.

Saina, 20, would be high on confidence given the kind of form she has been this season. The mere fact that she is seeded second behind Wang Yihan of China speaks volumes for her consistency.

The 20-year-old has shown the world that the Chinese are not invincible. Since her 2008 Beijing Olympics quarter-final appearance, Saina has been scaling peaks and is clearly the most feared opponent by the Chinese.

Saina’s best performance in a World Championship from three previous appearances was her quarter-final appearance where she lost to second-seeded Lin Wang of China in front of the home crowd in Hyderabad last year. But Saina had hardly got time to fully recover from the chicken pox she suffered barely a week before the tournament.

The Indian this season has reached the semi-final of the All England and the quarter-final of the Malaysian Open, before winning three back-to-back tournaments, including two Super Series events — Indian Open Grand Prix, Singapore Open and Indonesian Open.

“Definitely, all these things mean more pressure and bigger expectations. Naturally I will try my best to keep away from these factors. Well, to be a world champion you have to face all these challenges,” said Saina, the only Indian to win three Super Series events.

Saina, the former World junior champion, knows she needs to respect every opponent at this level.

“I cannot say one player or another is a major threat for me. This is a championship where anything can happen.”

“But again, what matters is once you enter the court is how well you play on the given day, for your past achievements will not help you any way,” said Saina, who won India’s highest sporting honour, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award this year.

“Let me tell you honestly that the preparations are a real grind. Gopi Sir (Pullela Gopi Chand, India’s chief national coach) is ensuring that I should not be found wanting in the mega event in any aspect.”

Gopichand believes Saina is one of the hot favourites for the title.

“There is a very little scope for improvement in Saina’s game. She is a vastly improved player now, say from what she was even eight months ago,” he said.

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