Saina Nehwal broke her own rule and took a day off on Wednesday to celebrate her 20th birthday with family members. On Thursday, when she returned to the Pullela Gopi Chand Academy, she learnt that she has become the first Indian woman shuttler to break into top 5. The Indonesia Super Series champion spoke to Hindustan Times about the journey so far and the
challenges that lie ahead.
What was your first reaction when you heard the news?
Frankly, I was surprised that it has happened so soon. This year I was planning to cut down on tournaments and concentrate on training. So the aim was to maintain my ranking in the top-10.
But you would have expected it after reaching the All England semifinal?
Yes, the semifinal appearance made it happen. Once you are in the top-10, it is very difficult to climb even one place. But I got a decent draw and I was able to capitalise on it.
Even the performance in the Uber Cup qualifiers helped you earn valuable points.
Well, that tournament helped in many ways. I was leading the team for the first time and it was a different kind of pressure. I just concentrated on winning my matches there and that win against Zhou Mi (of Hong Kong) did a world of good to my confidence before the All England.
You spoke about cutting down on tournaments? Any special reason for that?
This year we have to play the Commonwealth Games, the Asian Games and the world championship. I want to be fit for these major events, and hence have decided to cut down on tournaments. I definitely want to climb the ladder and get into the top 3 and become number one but giving my best in these events is a priority.