Shuttler Saina rates Singapore performance as her best (Lead)

June 14th, 2008 - 11:58 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 14 (IANS) India’s Saina Nehwal rated her semi-final appearance in Singapore Open Super Series badminton tournament as her best performance in the circuit so far and felt the win gave her a much needed boost ahead of the Olympic Games in August. Saina, 18, became the first Indian to enter a Super Series semi-final, where she lost 21-17, 19-21, 11-21 to fifth seeded Mi Zhou of Hong Kong in 55 minutes Saturday.

Saina, however, has no regrets as she says she lost to a better player. But she admitted she had her chances after winning the first game and then levelling to make to 19-19 after trailing 16-19 in the second.

“It was a quite tough to play against Zhou. She is World No. 8 and very experienced. It was a close match. I began well to win the first game. But in the second game I made two errors at 19-19. In the third game, I got a bit tired and couldn’t match her strokes,” Saina told IANS on phone from Singapore.

“But it was a good experience. I was confident I could do well in the tournament because my preparation was very good. But I never expected to reach the semi finals. I gave my 100 percent. It was a good practice for me here. I beat good players. This the best I have ever played,” she said.

After this win, Saina says she can take on any top ranked player in the world.

“My performance has given a major boost to my confidence in my preparation for the Olympics. Now I feel I have the confidence to win against the top players. In this tournament, I tried to go for wins.”

For Saina it was her best showing in two years after her win at the Philippines Open in 2006. The world No. 30 also said that she had worked hard on her fitness and game to produce the kind of performance she displayed.

“You need a lot of stamina, speed, good strength as well as strokes to be good in badminton. I had everything but wasn’t able to give my best. Now I’ve focussed more on my fitness, my strokes, especially my finishing,” Saina said.

“Last year has been the tough for me. But I came close in my matches against the top ranked players. But it was just my second year on the circuit,” she added.

Saina also felt that having an experience of playing against top players in the past gave her an edge.

“Since I had played all these players last year, I was aware of their game. It is just that I improved my game that helped me got the better of them,” she said.

Saina will now play in the Indonesian Open next week and after that will head for the Thailand Open.

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