Aparna Popat feels that a tournament win was around the corner for Saina Nehwal
It has been a positive week for Indian badminton, thanks to Saina Nehwal’s victory at the 2016 Australian Open on Sunday. The win certainly came at a right time for the 26-year-old, who had previously endured 6 semifinal losses at various events.
Reacting to her victory, Nine-time National champion Aparna Popat spoke to Sportskeeda about Saina’s win, whether fitness wise this was her best performance and more.
Was the Saina Nehwal result expected?: I think she’s been hovering around. Getting to the semifinals and stuff. And honestly, there is not too much difference at the top and for somebody as experienced as her, if you have a look at the draw, she is probably the most experienced. So it was coming but it’s good that it has eventually come.
Was this Saina’s best all round performance in 2016: Yes. Her form has been picking up slowly and surely. She has certainly looked crisper in her game than she did at the start of the year. But having said that, just to have a reality check, this is the time that most of the players look as a prep. The moment the Olympic qualification ends, then players tend to use the remaining period as a prep.
So it depends on which players go about their preparations in what manner, which varies from individual to individual. For example, the Chinese players will have their own plans in mind as far as peaking is concerned. Winning titles could be a way by which Saina would like to gain confidence.
Srikanth’s exploits and how much confidence he can draw from this performance: I think this performance will give him a lot of confidence. He hasn’t been doing well of late. He must have got a little bit of preparation in the of time and must have thought of using this as a testing ground and seeing that it was working would have been a big confidence booster.
The amount of pressure on Srikanth, considering an experienced hand like Parupalli Kashyap is not travelling to Rio: Honestly, if both Kashyap and Srikanth were travelling to Rio, I think there would have been an equal amount of pressure. Because it is about individual excellence as well. Yes, you are playing for your country, but these guys are experienced enough and old enough and responsible enough, so they are going to put their best foot forward ion any case. Having said that, Srikanth will be competing in his first Olympics, but he would be looking to use this as an opportunity since you don't know what will happen four years down the line in 2020.