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'Beating Asiad champ made it extra special'

india Updated: Dec 13, 2010 00:05 IST
Abhijeet Kulkarni
Abhijeet Kulkarni
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Saina Nehwal put behind the disappointment of the Asian Games disaster to land her third Super Series title of the year. She spoke to Hindustan Times from Hong Kong about what this victory means to her, the Asian Games debacle and her reasons to take her father along on tours this year.

This is your third Super Series title in one calendar year. Where will you place this victory vis-à-vis the others?
The whole year has been fantastic for me. But this is definitely the best of the three. Here I had to defeat the Asian Games gold medallist to win the title. That makes it extra special because I came into this tournament after a bad outing in the Asian Games.

That Asian Games loss is still being talked about. You also said that your preparations were not perfect for the Guangzhou Games. What went wrong?
It is very difficult to play back-to-back tournaments of that stature. The Commonwealth Games were draining — both mentally and physically. I had a lot of pressure to win. Also, we were almost playing continuously for 15 days and that was very tiring. I just got two and half weeks to prepare for the Games and that were not enough.
Also I guess experience counts in such big events. Yip (Pui Yin Yip of Hong Kong) was the silver medallist in the last edition. She knew how to handle the pressure in such Games. I was the one under pressure that day and did not feel comfortable at all on the court. Now looking back after beating her comfortably here, I also wonder what went wrong in Guangzhou. But I know these things are part and parcel of a player’s career.
Right now I am playing well and if I continue to do that my confidence to play and win in the Asian Games and Olympics will automatically increase.

You are already a celebrity. And the pressures from sponsors, media and fans will only increase from here on. How do you plan to cope with it?
Yes, I am aware of that. Thankfully it has not affected me much so far. But I am also working on it (to maintain a balance). After all the sport is the most important thing. This year there were two major events and so it was more difficult for me. But next year I will only have the Super Series and the world championship, so I can find a better balance.

Since the last few tournaments your father has started to travel with you, which was never the case even when you were a teenager. Is there any specific reason behind it?
Yes. I feel a little lonely nowadays when I am travelling and playing tournaments. So I felt somebody from my family should accompany me. My mother still doesn’t have a passport so my father has been accompanying me since the last four trips. I feel more comfortable when he is around.