Still recovering from knee injury, says Saina Nehwal prior to India Open Superseries
- She will face 19-year-old Chia Hsin Lee from Chinese Taipei in her opening match.
What’s the story?
The BWF Metlife Yonex Sunrise India Open World Superseries is all set to kick off at the Siri Fort Stadium in New Delhi on March 28 in what will be its seventh edition. Leading the Indian challenge in the women’s singles category along with PV Sindhu will be 27-year-old Saina Nehwal, who had lifted the title two years ago, defeating Ratchanok Intanon in the final.
“Playing in Delhi has always been special for me. I won the Commonwealth Games gold medal here in 2010 along with the India Open win in 2015. It always feels good to play in front of my home crowd and I will look to do my best this time around,” said Nehwal in the pre-tournament press conference.
After undergoing surgery on her knee, this will be just her third tournament since her return and she admitted that she is still feeling its effects. ”Returning from injury is always difficult. You lose your movement, your touch and it takes time to regain the same amount of control during matches,” said the bronze medalist from the 2012 Olympics.
She added, “Along with the physical aspect, there is the mental struggle as well. There is always the risk of over-exerting yourself in training and the constant worry of the injury showing up again.”
Nehwal stated that playing high-quality tournaments is the only way to improve and recover. She said, “I am feeling better with every tournament and improving match-by-match. I’m hoping to hit top form here in Delhi and do well.”
In case you didn’t know...
Currently ranked number nine in the world, Saina had crashed out of the Rio Olympics in the initial stages, after which it was found out that she was suffering from a knee injury during the competition. She is still in the process of completing her recovery after going under the knife in August last year.
The heart of the matter
For many years Nehwal has been the torchbearer for Indian badminton but over the past few months, she has been overshadowed by PV Sindhu, whose silver medal at the Rio Olympics has made her the poster girl for the sport in the country. The former world number one admitted that she is under less pressure than before, which she feels is a good thing for her.
Her last taste of competitive action came in Birmingham earlier this month, where she reached the quarterfinals of the prestigious All England Championships. She went down fighting to Korean rival Sung Ji Hyun 22-20 22-20 in an absorbing contest that could have gone either way.
The India Open will begin on Tuesday and will feature some of the biggest names in the sport facing off. Nehwal, who is the sixth seed in the women’s singles draw, will go up against 19-year-old Chia Hsin Lee from Chinese Taipei in her opening match.
Returning from a serious injury is a long and arduous process for any athlete and it is understandable why Saina Nehwal is still not playing to her full abilities. She performed well at the All-England and will look to continue in the same vein in front of her home crowd.
Published 27 Mar 2017, 17:19 IST