Star India shuttler Saina Nehwal, who has recovered from a serious knee injury sustained during the Rio Olympics in August and is back on the international circuit, is still not at her physical best and needs more time to reach that high level, feels her coach Vimal Kumar.
“She is definitely not back to her best and has some way to go before she can aspire to win big tournaments again. She needs some more time, may be in terms of physical and strength aspects in which she needs to improve,” said the former national men’s champion.
Saina, who underwent surgery after returning from Rio where she failed to progress beyond the first round, today made it to the quarterfinals of the Macau Open Grand Prix Gold tournament, in which she is the top seed.
“After this (Macau) there’s nothing for her till end-January — the Syed Modi memorial Grand Prix Gold (in Lucknow). Of course PBL (Premier Badminton League) is there (in the first part of January) in which she will play, being one of the big names. But it lasts two weeks and is not a very high intensity competition, in the real sense,” said Vimal.
“In another 4-6 weeks (she should be back to top level) once she starts high intensity training. She has enough time when she enters that (Modi memorial) competition and if nothing goes wrong, from end-January onwards she will be a strong contender.
“When she comes back (from Macau) we will have to see when she can start high intensity training. I have given all power to the trainer. Their session comes first and on-court badminton comes second. I have told him to ensure that the leg is good. There’s enough time. She can do good training and come back,” he explained.
Vimal was quite pleased with the way the London Olympics bronze medal winner’s injured leg has held up.
“Physically she needs to get better, but the most important thing is her leg is holding fine. Today also she struggled. They are all steady players, playing long rallies and the shuttles (in Macau) are slow,” Vimal said.