Its amazing to see Saina Nehwal stay at the top for such a long time:Aparna Popat
Former India badminton player Aparna Popat has praised World No.2 Saina Nehwal for the manner in which she has remained among the top-ranked players in the world for a long time.
The 37-year-old, who has been appointed as a mentor for the Badminton Development Programme for the Go Sports foundation, said that her achievements on the global stage have helped her gain popularity in the country and added that the public tend to forget those who don’t perform well on a regular basis.
"Saina's consistency at the top and the titles she won helped the game become popular in the country. It's amazing that she was able to stay at the top for so many years. If a player can hang on to the top five of the world ranking for five years, that's incredible. Saina has been doing that and that's a great feat. If you are not consistent people will just forget you," the nine-time national champion said.
Talking about Saina’s compatriot in singles P.V Sindhu, the Mumbaikar said while the Hyderabadi has done very well so far, she does a fear a bit for her as she has already achieved so much in such a short span of time.
“I fear for her. She is just 19 and had already won two medals at the World Championships. She has a better record than Saina against the Chinese. If you could achieve tremendous success at such an early age you have the responsibility of justifying that talent. I am confident that she could do that but she has to work on a few aspects of her game," she said.
Saina more complete player than Sindhu: Aparna
When asked to analyses the style of play of both girls, Aparna said that while Sindhu is more of an attacking player, Saina mixes her attacking and defensive game and has got a more complete game as compared to the two-time World Championship bronze medalist.
"Both are different kind of players. Saina has a very good defence and attack as well. Like 50% of both. While Sindhu is more of an attacking kind. She has 70% of attack and 30% of defence. Saina has evolved as a complete player, Sindhu is still a player in making. The best aspect I like about Saina is her grit. It's good to have such quality players at the same time,” she said.
Gopichand’s contribution has been immense: Aparna
Aparna also showered praise on the 2001 All England champion Pullela Gopichand, saying he has played an instrumental role in putting Indian badminton on the world map and felt that had she got access to the excellent facilities that re on offer today, when she was an active player, then her results might have been different.
"I have no words to describe what he has done for Indian badminton. His contribution was immense. Take out Gopichand, Indian badminton could have been where it was 15 years ago.
"My achievements could have been different if I got access to these kind of facilities and mentorship. The facilities were limited then and I am happy that players now have everything, they just need to work hard,” she said.
Although the Chinese have dominated the badminton scene for a considerable amount of time, Aparna felt that presently there are no fixed individuals who are having an edge over the rest and felt that unlike before, India certainly now have a chance to win big tournaments.
"There are no dominant players in women's badminton now. The Chinese are not consistent and getting injured regularly. According to me players like Saina, Sindhu, Ratchanok Intanon, Carolina Marin and Tai Tzu Ying along with Li Xuerui can share the honours. When we were playing most of the times four Chinese used to reach the semifinals. Now that has changed and Indians should make the best of this," she concluded.