Saina eyes world No 1 spot by 2010

There's something about this city that forces Saina Nehwal to settle for nothing but the best.

Written by Kabir Mandrekar | Pune | Published:January 22, 2009 11:56 pm

There’s something about this city that forces Saina Nehwal to settle for nothing but the best. No surprise then that,on her arrival in Pune for the Petroleum Sports Promotion Board inter-unit tournament,India’s top badminton player voiced her readiness to take a shot at the very best in the sport — the world No 1 spot. “My aim is to achieve the No 1 status by 2010,” Nehwal declared. Not in a mood to peg down expectations from herself,Nehwal stressed that it could take a while but she was determined to do what it takes to achieve that target.

“It will be a gradual process. I keep trying to improve upon my physical fitness. I overwork myself when it comes to physical training,” she quipped,adding: “I’m confident that I can defeat players who are ranked above me. I just need to keep my nerve in match situations.”

The current world No 10,representing Bharat Petroleum,remembers the city of Pune fondly after winning a gold medal at the Commonwealth Youth Games,followed by a thumping victory at the World Junior Championships,in October last year.

“It was a great feeling to win both the tournaments. The tag of ‘World Junior Champion’ means a lot to me especially since I could only manage a runner-up position in 2007. Pune is definitely a special place. The capacity crowd present at the stadium gave me extra motivation to win. It was truly a great feeling to see the stadium being filled up for a badminton tournament”,she said.

Asked about her recent second-round exit at the Korea Open,she cited exhaustion as the reason. “I was fatigued while playing my Indonesian counterpart Adrianti Firdasari,and thus did not have my best game against her. But I have been in good form before this tournament and I’m sure I can regain that,” she said.

Experience counts

She also spoke about the Olympic Games,saying she hadn’t expected to reach the latter stages of the competition. The ultimate goal is the big gold medal at Olympics,and the 18-year-old said her game was coming together. “My strength lies in my ability to attack. I have been able to master my smash,drop shot and net game. I never leave anything to chance and look to take each and every shot. My only weakness,at the moment,is lack of experience,” she said.

Nehwal said she was optimistic about the progress of budding players. “Badminton at the junior level is definitely going through an advancement. The excellent infrastructure that India has provided for these players has contributed a lot towards this. I also feel that the success achieved by players like Chetan Anand,and now me,has motivated the players and given them the belief,” she said.

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