Saina Nehwal becomes World No. 1 again; thanks coach




Saina Nehwal had become, earlier this month, world no. 1 after her Indian Open Grand Prix Gold win, only to see her slip to second place following her semi-final finish in Malaysian Open Super Series. She skipped last week’s Singapore Open Super Series but gained the world number one rank again after Li Xuerui also pulled out from the tournament. Saina is the first Indian women in badminton to become world number one and the only other Indian to have achieved this feat since Prakash Padukone in 1980.

Saina Nehwal becomes World No. 1 again; thanks coach

Saina Nehwal becomes World No. 1 again; thanks coach

Saina credited this latest achievement to her Bengaluru-based coach Vimal Kumar and said, “While working with Vimal sir, I came out with results. Vimal sir had belief in me and said if I keep on performing and winning, the ranking will take care of itself and that is what has happened”. She said, “Right now we are working on areas which I was weak and I think we are doing that very well and that’s why results are coming.”

When asked about her former coach Pullela Gopichand and their sudden parting of ways, she said, “I cannot exactly say what happened but the training which I got was not upto the mark. We discussed on my game but whatever we applied on the court did not work out for me. Not every coach can read the game properly. Sometimes the coach may not know how to improve from one stage to another. Somehow I got stuck at one place, not improving from that zone.”

Troubled by injuries and poor form, Saina had dropped to 9th in the rankings in June, 2014. That is when she made the decision to switch coaches from P Gopichand to Vimal Kumar. Since then the 25-year-old has steadily climbed back up the rankings. She ended last year at No. 4 after winning the China Open and has carried her new found form into 2015. Saina has been in tremendous form this year, having won the Indian Open and the Syed Modi International and finishing second in the Yonex All-England Open, where she lost in the final to Marin. She reached the semi-finals of the Malaysian Open, where she lost to Xuerui.

Saina, a brown belt in Karate, has till date 9 Super Series titles and 7 Grand Prix Gold titles to her name. She won numerous medals for the country including gold medal at the commonwealth in women’s single category twice, first in 2008 and again in 2010.

Talking about the future, she told PTI, “It would be difficult to maintain the world no. 1 rank for a long time but people should respect that I have been the first one to reach the number one slot.”

Last week Sania Mirza too ascended the throne of tennis’s women doubles player no.1 rank after winning her third consecutive WTA title with her new partner Martina Hingis. Both the Hyderabadi girls have expressed happiness at each other’s performance.

Congratulating Saina Nehwal, Sania Mirza said it was really good that shewas doing so well.

While Saina Nehwal and Li Xuerui have battled for the top spot over the last three weeks, the hottest player in the sport right now is Spain’s Carolina Marin. She beat Saina in the final of the All-England and Xuerui in the final of the Malaysia Open and is the reigning World and European champion. It is difficult times ahead for Saina and she will have to keep up the level of her game to hold on to the top rank. The battle between these three athletes will be something to watch out for in the near future.

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Anjan K Merkap

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