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Saina Nehwal hopes to strike form at Indian Open

On a comeback trail after a long injury lay-off, Saina Nehwal said she is happy to play at the top level again, but finds it challenging to perform on the court

other sports Updated: Mar 27, 2017 17:56 IST
HT Correspondent
Saina Nehwal speaks as BAI President, Akhilesh Das Gupta, Rio Olympics silver medalist P V Sindhu and world no. 4 badminton player Carolina Marin of Spain look on during a press conference for the Indian Open in New Delhi on Monday.
Saina Nehwal speaks as BAI President, Akhilesh Das Gupta, Rio Olympics silver medalist P V Sindhu and world no. 4 badminton player Carolina Marin of Spain look on during a press conference for the Indian Open in New Delhi on Monday.(PTI)

For Saina Nehwal, the Indian Open World Super Series, which begins at the Siri Fort Sports Complex from Tuesday, will be another step towards regaining top form after an injury layoff.

“Coming back after the knee surgery wasn’t easy. Every time I stepped on the court, fear (of the injury recurring) restricted my movement. It’s more mental than physical,” said the former world No 1.

In August last, she underwent surgery, and after a layoff, is on the comeback trail. Saina said she was happy to play at the top level again, but was finding it tough to perform.

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“It’s difficult to achieve good results immediately. Training is on expected lines, but competition is a different ball game,” she said.

According to Saina, the three tournaments she played since her comeback were satisfying.

“At the All England, there was a 50-50 chance of winning the quarterfinals (against Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun). Since body movement was restricted, I wasn’t able to sustain myself as the match progressed. But overall it has been a good journey,” she said here on Monday.

Breaking into top ten

India’s poster girl PV Sindhu, silver medalist in the Rio Olympic Games and Saina are among the top ten in the women’s world rankings. Sindhu is ranked fifth while Saina is in eighth spot.

However, none of the men shuttlers are in the top bracket. Ajay Jayaram is 19th, while HS Prannoy is ranked 26th.

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Kidambi Srikanth, ranked 31st, failed to progress beyond the quarters at Rio, but chief national coach Pullela Gopichand was optimistic on the men’s chances.

“We have a good bunch and we expect them to deliver goods this week,” he said.