I hope to be fit before world championship: Saina

New Delhi: Ace Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal is confident of recovering from her shoulder pain and regain full fitness before the prestigious World badminton Championship that gets underway in Jakarta, Indonesia on August 10.

“There is some pain in the shoulder. I hope to be fit before the tournament,” Saina told PTI.

The Olympic bronze medallist has been unlucky when it comes to her fitness ahead of the World Championship. She had an upset stomach during the 2013 edition and ahead of the 2009 event she was diagnosed with chicken pox.

Earlier this year, Saina had developed a shoulder pain en route to her historic runners-up finish at the prestigious All England championship in March.

In world championship, a medal has always eluded Saina, who has not progressed beyond the quarterfinals. The World No. 2 will still start as one of the favourites at Indonesia, especially after her success run this season where she won the Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold and India Super Series.

The 25-year-old will start her campaign in the second round, taking on the winner of the match between Hong Kong’s Cheung Ngan Yi and Kati Tolmoff of Estonia. She is likely to take on Takahashi of Japan in the prequarterfinals and if she can cross the hurdle, it is likely to be a battle against Wang Yihan of China.

Talking about the draw, Saina, who has got a bye in the first round, said: “The draw is really tough with Sayaka Takahashi and Wang Yihan both in my half. They are very strong players, so let us see how it will be for me in this tournament. I hope I do well this time.”
Saina has a 3-0 record against Takahashi but twice it has been a three-game match, while against Yihan Wang it is a 2-9 record but the Indian will take heart from the fact that she had beaten her in the All England Championship in March.

Asked about her preparation for the tournament, Saina said: “My training is going on fine. At the highest level there is no particular area which we have to work on as every part of the game needs correction. So it’s like working on everything.”

Saina has lost to four Chinese players — Wang Lin (2009), Wang Shixian (2010), Wang Xin (2011), Li Xuerui (2014) — besides facing defeat against South Korea’s Bae Yeon-ju in the 2013 edition of the World meet.

Besides there is World No. 1 Spaniard Carolina Marin, who had beaten her in the finals of All England, while Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand had beaten Saina thrice in the past.
The second seed Indian said: “Competition has opened up a lot with Carolina (Marin) and (Intanon) Ratchanok. All the Chinese and Japanese players are also playing extremely well, so it has become more challenging with everyone playing extremely well in women singles.”

It is for the first time that India will have two players within the top 5 — Saina (World No 2) and Kidambi Srikanth (World No 3) as they lead the biggest and strongest home contingent at the World meet.

Asked what are the chances of a medal, Saina said: “This time we have a big team and I hope everyone comes out with good results. Being a player I can only wish them luck.”