By Pullela Gopichand
As we get set to travel to London for the world championship, it is with the realisation that we need to prepare long-term. The London Olympics next year will also be played at the same venue so this gives everyone an opportunity to study the conditions. So the task for the Indian players and support staff is to prepare according to what we find there like how much is the drift inside the hall etc. Who plans and prepares better for next year will be key.
From a Saina Nehwal point of view, we have to understand what are the opponents trying to do and prepare accordingly. Fortunately her ankle injury is now a thing of the past. We have had four good weeks of preparation leading to this world championship. Though she did not have the best of tournaments leading to this, I feel her performance at the Indonesian Open was decent. Overall, she needed this kind of training to do well and get back into form. With her fitness and strokes, she should do well.
I expect the Chinese to go all out to vie for top honors in terms of world rankings because that will decide how many Chinese players get into the Olympics. And knowing the Chinese, they would want their top three women players to be playing in London. I don’t see them getting complacent at all.
Saina has of course, beaten a few of the Chinese players in recent times and they have also been beaten by players from other countries too. So their confidence is a bit punctured. So it is important from a Chinese point of view to reassert their supremacy.
With the women’s doubles pair of Jwala and Ashwini combining well, they and Saina are our best hopes in London.
(P Gopichand is former All-England badminton champion and India’s National Coach)