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Saina Nehwal exudes confidence

V.V. Subrahmanyam

Indian ace targeting the World No. 1 spot

— FILE PHOTO

READY: Saina Nehwal is primed to take on the challenge in the Indian Open Super Series.

HYDERABAD: World No. 3 Saina Nehwal believes that an impressive performance in next week's $ 2,00,000 prize money Indian Open Super Series in Delhi should be part of her plans to realise her ultimate dream to be the World No. 1.

“I will be back in Delhi where I won the Commonwealth Games gold before going on to do so well on the Asian circuit last year. So, once again I hope the second half of the year will be better this time around too,” said the champion shuttler at Gopi Chand Academy here on Thursday afternoon.

Wearing a skirt in training, which will now be mandatory from June 1 as per Badminton World Federation's new rule, Saina was more focused on the game than on these issues. “Let us not give too much of importance to that,” she insists.

Neither easy nor tough

“I think the Indian Open will not be a really tough event but also not a very easy one. The Chinese players will be missed but do remember that the Japanese have been doing really well of late on the circuit,” said Saina.

“Eriko (Hirose) and Tina (Rasmussen) should be tough competitors with their varying styles on the court. But, I am confident of taking them on this time, given the intensity in preparations.

“My focus has been on speed and stamina even while there is a conscious effort to improve my net game which I feel is my strongpoint,” said Saina.

The 21-year-old Saina said she still had some problems with the injured ankle (she plays with a tape on) especially when she moves backwards on the court. “Otherwise, I find it okay and not really painful,” she added.

“For this reason, though I am keen to play in as many events as possible to realise the World No. 1 ranking, I have to take care of giving the ankle adequate rest,” she said.

India's chief National coach Pullela Gopi Chand felt that Saina should be the clear favourite to win the singles title.

Good opportunity

Meanwhile, the men's singles offers a huge opportunity for the young guns like Kashyap and Guru Sai Dutt to improve further because of the presence of Lee Chong Wei, Taufik Hidayat and Peter Gade.

“The women's doubles combination of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponappa should have a very good chance of winning the title because of the way they have been combining of late,” said Gopi. “However, we will miss V. Diju who pulled out due to an injury from the mixed doubles and men's doubles,” he said.

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