“Wang Lin was the better player today,” said India’s top shuttler, Saina Nehwal, summing up her loss to the Chinese in the quarterfinal of the World Championship on Friday.
Clarity of thought has been Saina’s biggest asset and the 20-year-old Hyderabadi had no qualms about admitting that she needs some more time to consistently get the better of Chinese superstars.
“In the Indonesia Open, I dominated the net and she (Wang Lin) was unable to handle the situation. But here, she tackled my net game very well and her defence was also better,” said the world number six who had beaten Lin in Jakarta.
In fact, Saina has beaten three of the top five Chinese players — Zhu Lin and Lu Lan being the other two — in the last one year and had raised the expectations of Indian supporters in the Championship, being played in her hometown.
However, the last edition’s pre-quarterfinalist was grounded by chicken pox just 10 days before the tournament and, though national coach Pullela Gopi Chand had suggested her to take things easy, she pushed herself hard to get back to training within five days.
“I didn’t want to miss the World Championship at home,” she said, insisting that she would not like to blame illness for her ouster. But the effect of that illness was visible in Saina’s sluggish movement in her first match against Anastasia Prokopenko of Russia. In fact, it almost cost her the pre-quarterfinals against Petya Nedelcheva of Bulgaria.
The match also showed that the Indian was vulnerable on her backhand and lost a majority of her points when Nedelcheva pushed the shuttle in that corner.
Gopi Chand also admitted that Saina was not at her best but preferred to look at the positive side, saying that given the circumstances (chicken pox) her performance was commendable. “She should not have hurried back to training after chicken pox. But Saina is different. She wants to perform and win every match.
“But we need to give her some time before she starts beating the Chinese consistently,” he added. Saina is now planning to take a break for a couple of days before getting back to training. She would get about three weeks to train before the China Masters, starting on September 15.