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Saina confident of extending unbeaten run at Worlds

After her three-title winning streak last month, top Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal looks confident of taking her unbeaten run into the World Championships next month.

delhi Updated: Jul 13, 2010 22:31 IST

After her three-title winning streak last month, top Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal looks confident of taking her unbeaten run into the World Championships next month.

The 20-year-old from Hyderabad won three titles in three weeks, including two Super Series events, in June and was Tuesday named the captain of the nine-member squad for the World Championships in Paris.

World No. 3 Saina said she is not in awe of facing Chinese players in the Championships and she has comfortably beaten them in the recent past.

"I cannot predict which round I will reach in the World Champioships, but I hope I win the tournament," said Saina, who was faciliated by Badminton Association of India(BAI) and team sponsors Premier Brands for her achievement in the capital today.

Last month, Saina claimed two Super Series titles in the Singapore Open and Indonesian Open, which came at the back of her Indian Open Grand Prix title. Her biggest victory came in the Singapore Open when she beat World Champion Lu Lan in the semi-final. Her phenomenal achievement took her three places up to No.3 in the rankings, the only non-Chinese in the top five.

"The Indonesian Open win was very special to me because it was my third tournament in three weeks and I was tired. Even though some of the Chinese players were not playing, I was given a strong fight by other girls," she said.

Saina is undeterred at the prospect of facing a Chinese in the World Championships.

"The Chinese are beatable. I have beaten them before. They used to be the badminton powerhouse but today there are so many girls from other countries who are equally tough."

"I hope other Indians will perform well. Everyone is strong mentally and has a good chance.

"I have worked on my fitness and stamina and I have improved a lot in these areas this year. My strategy of playing in selected tournaments has also paid dividends as my results show. I will continue with the same strategy."

"The rankings are not important to me. I am more focussed on winning tournaments. If I perform consistently, my rankings will go up automatically. I am not worried how early I will become the World No. 1, hopefully I will reach there sometime soon.

Saina said it is heartening to see her recent success has contributed in the rise of badminton's popularity in India.

"Yes, my recent results have benefited me and I am learning to deal with so much attention, more so, as I am soon going to begin my training. It is nice to see so many youngsters taking to badminton and the sport is coming up in India."

National coach Pullela Gopichand said Saina has raised the bar of expectations with her stupendous performance.

"Going into the World Championships and then Commonwealth and Asian Games, definitely there will be a lot of pressure as now the expectations have gone high."

"After a tournament is over the fitness and technique drops a bit. So you have to comeback, take adequate rest, train hard, eat well so that you are ready for the next event," said Gopichand.

He said Saina's consistency has been remarkable.

"There are six to eight players of equal level at the top level. Not one player in the top five is winning all the tournaments. Overall, she has done very well. She has started beating players in all kind of conditions and fought back when she was down."

About the World Championships, Gopichand said India have a strong team this time.

"A fit Chetan Anand is never far from a good performance. Parupalli Kashyap has performed very well recently. The mixed doubles combination of V. Diju and Jwala Gutta too has been doing exceptionally well. So overall, we have a strong team."

First Published: Jul 13, 2010 22:28 IST