India Open 2022: Saina Nehwal opens up on her fitness issues, hopes to take confidence from first-round win

Saina Nehwal in action at the India Open. (PC: BAI)
Saina Nehwal in action at the India Open. (PC: BAI)
Hari Kishore M

Saina Nehwal strode into the second round of the ongoing India Open 2022 when Czech Republic's Tereza Svabikova retired, trailing 22-20, 1-0 in the first round on Wednesday.

Nehwal won the first game on extended points and took a slender lead in the second game before Svabikova retired with a back injury.

She will next meet Malvika Bansod, who dispatched compatriot Samiya Imad Farooqui 21-18, 21-9 in the first round.

Read: India Open: Ashmita Chaliha packs off fifth seed, aims to enter top-50 this year

Speaking to journalists after her first-round match, Saina said she hopes to take motivation from the way she closed out the first game.

"Playing after long gives does you match confidence for sure," she said. "You know how to pull out those points, because in practice, you don't have that kind of privilege to play points as much, or the intensity with which you play a tournament. So the quality of some points which I got, I hope it helps me tomorrow."

Saina Nehwal opens up on her injuries

The Indian shuttler has been plagued by a knee injury for years now. Although she showed signs of recovery, the former World No. 1 was forced to have a subdued 2021. She missed competing in a lot of tournaments, including the World Championships, and even lost out on a spot for the Tokyo Olympics.

Also read: Lakshya Sen’s World Championships bronze medal could be turning point of his career, says coach Vimal Kumar

The ongoing India Open was not on Saina Nehwal's radar. Although the star shuttler wasn't 100% fit, she chose to compete in the BWF season opener.

"I had a good practice for seven to eight days before the India Open but I wasn't expecting to play here," she revealed. "I hope I can get some more practice sessions on court. I am happy to play in India, let's see how many rounds I can progress.
"I am 60-70% fit now," she admitted. "I will have to go with weight training. I can't even sit even a day. I would say by January-end, I can get back to my full physical fitness level. The month of February will be for training as the next events are in March, so I will get four or five weeks for training as well."

Throwing light on her injuries, Saina Nehwal said it wasn't just one but three issues that had plagued her.

"It was about three issues - One I tore my cartilage, then I had issues with patella and finally there was one more meniscus issue," she said. "The knee went through a lot of trauma. Finally a stage came when I couldn't walk after the French Open. I was worried about my groin but I didn't know that my knee was in trouble and my doctor told me that I cannot play till the end of December."

Saina Nehwal also revealed that she struggled to accept the fact that she was sitting at home while other shuttlers were competing.

Also read: BWF India Open 2022: Preview, when and where to watch, live streaming details

Edited by Sudeshna Banerjee
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