New Delhi — Relieved to clinch her maiden India Open Super Series title, badminton star Saina Nehwal today said it is a huge burden off her head as she has always struggled to win this tournament and vowed to bring more laurels for the country in future.
"I think a big burden off my head. Last four years, I was struggling, losing in pre-quarters or quarters, this is the first time I have reached the finals and won it. So too many surprises for me in this tournament, being the world no 1, winning the title. I am very proud of myself. I never thought this day will come after so much struggle, this is the best phase of my life," Saina said after beating former world champion Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand 21-16 21-14 in the summit clash at the Siri Fort Sports Complex.
India open super series winner.
wow great feeling and world number 1! pic.twitter.com/lIMMp3K8As
— Saina Nehwal (@NSaina) March 29, 2015
Explaining further, Saina said: "I think the consistency with which I am playing is great. I reached three finals in last two months and it is not easy. My shoulder is taped, so it is obviously difficult playing against top players."
Asked what is in store for future, Saina said: "Titles makes me hungry. Next I hope to win more and more titles, I hope to be fit and injury free. This result will motivate me to win more titles."
Talking about the final, Saina said: "It was a tough match. Ratchanok is one player who always gives me a tough fight whenever I play her. Last time when I played her in the Asian Games, it was a long and close match, so it is always difficult to play her as she is very deceptive and she has got some tricky shots.
"But the way I was moving today, I was picking all her tricky strokes and she was not liking it, so she made a lot of errors.
Thank u pic.twitter.com/np7GB9oaIX
— Saina Nehwal (@NSaina) March 28, 2015
"She gets tensed when you pick her strokes. But I can see she has improved a lot. She is playing well and coming back to form. I was expecting a tough final and it was a good final. I was surprised to see so many spectators today. It was lovely crowd. It was really a fantastic match today," she said.
Asked if she felt like the world no 1 when she walked on to the court today, Saina said: "I was only thinking about the final, world number one was not in my mind. I guess I will have to see my name in the ranking list next Thursday."
On her celebration plans, the 25-year-old said: "I will have ice cream, milk shake, chocolate, I will have everything today. I will rest tomorrow and then day after I will be back to practice before taking a flight to Malaysia."
Analysing Intanon's game, Saina said: "I feel she is very good player from behind. She has got some tricky shots from behind and I get caught up with those strokes. She is good at the nets but so am I."
Saina, who had clinched the 2010 Commonwealth Games title at the same venue, said she was surprised by her flawless game and happy that she could change her tactics according to the match situation.
"Everything was there today. From yesterday I played much better today. Of course, it was against a tougher opponent but I didn't expect to beat her in straight games, so easily.
"In the second game, the way I started, I was surprised by myself that how come the shots are falling so sharply. I have to attack as I am an attacking player and a rally player as well, so I have to keep changing my game according to the situations," she said.
Saina said the way she played today it has boosted her confidence and proved that she is improving each day.
"I beat her in straight games, last time it was a tough much, so this shows that I am improving. I am able to beat top players, I am going good. When you win you feel confident but when you lose you again kind of go back and work on it, may be I made some mistakes today so I have to work on them," she said.
"It is good that in last three months, I have reached finals, which means I am learning. I am not taking any tournament easily. Every tournament is difficult and every one will be prepared for me and I will have to play them many times in future, so I have to ready everytime," Saina said.
Nehwal, who created history by reaching the pinnacle of world badminton ranking, had earlier said she had contemplated "quitting badminton" after last year's World Championships. Saina reaffirmed her status as the country's most consistent performer in the international circuit by becoming the first Indian woman shuttler to attain the number one spot in world rankings.
"I have taken some many hard decisions to get here. I kept losing to the top players all the time, in fact after last year's World Championship I even thought of quitting badminton. It was a very dark time in my career. People were saying 'Saina your career is finished'," Saina said.
She added, "I then moved to Bangalore and my coach Vimal Kumar set a target of May this year to reach the number one rank. I did it in March itself!"