Saina Nehwal would get down to serious business when she begins a hectic tournament schedule on Wednesday with three titles up for grabs and lots of ranking points at stake.
The month of June last year had been Saina's best in her career, where she had won three back-to-back titles — the India Open Grand Prix Gold in Chennai, Indonesia Open and Singapore Open Super Series.
She will be defending her Super Series titles in Singapore and Indonesia this month and her marathon run starts on Wednesday with the Thailand Open Grand Prix Gold where she has been given the top billing. But the World No.4 seems unfazed by the magnitude of the task ahead.
“I have played back-to-back tournaments before, so I am not worried about that,” said Saina, who begins her campaign against former world champion Lu Lan of China.
“I have trained hard after coming back from the Sudirman Cup and I am going to give it my best.”
Saina has had a turbulent run-up to the Thailand Open. She crashed out of India’s first Super Series event in New Delhi in the first round and then lost her 100 per cent record in the finals when she lost to China's Wang Xin in the Malaysia Open Grand Prix Gold event a week later.
And all this while, she was struggling on personal front after she decided not to train under her long-time coach and mentor Pullela Gopi Chand. But the two sorted out their differences a week ago and Saina can now look forward to concentrating on her game.
“Yes, the last three months were a little difficult. Especially, after I lost in the India Open. But it happens, I got over it and reached the finals of the next tournament, so it was easy to cope with that defeat,” the 21-year-old said.Indian challenge World No. 23 P Kashyap is seeded 14th in the tournament and will take on Thailand's Poodchalat Pisit in the first round. He has done well against Thai players in the previous two events and will draw confidence from that.
Saurabh Verma — who surprised all by reaching the quarters of the India Open in April — faces Andre Kurniawan of Indonesia in his opening round. Guru Sai Dutt and Ajay Jayaram are the other Indians in the fray in men’s singles.
In women’s doubles, Commonwealth Games gold-medallists Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa are seeded eighth and will look to continue their good run as they face Hong Kong's Poon Lok Yan and Tse Ying Suet in the opening round.