In August last, when Saina Nehwal missed the China Masters due to a delay in sending her entry, the 20-year-old made her unhappiness public by saying it would hurt her ranking. Saina was recovering from a bout of chicken pox and though she managed to maintain her top-10 ranking by playing a few tournaments after that, she did not have a big title to show for.
This year, the Bharat Petroleum employee changed her approach and decided to play select tournaments rather than bother about her ranking.
The change in strategy has worked wonders for the world number 3 as she completed a hattrick of titles with a successful defence of her Indonesia Super Series crown by beating Japan’s Sayaka Sato 21-19, 13-21, 21-11 in Jakarta on Sunday.
Saina had won the India Open GP Gold and Singapore Super Series crown in the last two weeks and by winning her 15th match on the trot has shown that she has the endurance and strength to win consistently.
“I have been training very hard this year. I was feeling good before the start of the India Open and I was confident that I could win all the three tournaments,” said Saina after her triumph. “My focus this year is to win tournaments and not bother about the ranking,” the All England semi-finalist added.
Unlike last year when she played 17 tournaments, Saina has, on an average, participated in one tournament per month, as she puts in about four to five weeks of training before playing for two or three weeks.
Saina’s mentor and chief national coach Pullela Gopi Chand admitted the player had learnt from her mistakes last year and said he was happy that she understood the importance of hard training before major tournaments. “If you win tournaments, the ranking business will be automatically taken care of,” insisted the former All England champion.
Saina will not take part in a tournament before the World Championship in August and though Gopi Chand and his ward have not decided on action beyond the Worlds and Commonwealth Games, one could expect more titles from the Hyderabad lass.