After a three-week hiatus, Saina Nehwal is back in pursuit of that elusive title triumph when she competes in the Denmark Open Super Series Premier in Odense. Contrary to the stupendous success she enjoyed last year, Saina had claimed only one title, that too a Grand Prix Gold, this year.
The Hyderabadi, who clinched as many as six major titles last year, struggled with a nagging ankle injury which took almost five months to heal.
Though she returned to complete fitness by August, the precious time she lost without training affected her performance. The world No. 4, who moved swiftly between the net and the baseline last year, was found flat-footed when she went up against top players. The movement on court, specifically the front movement, has turned out to be a big liability for her this season.
Realizing that there is no immediate remedy to this malady, Saina is banking on rigorous physical training. Facing lesser-ranked opponents was never a problem but standing up to the Chinese challenge is always tough. The Commonwealth Games gold medalist will test her fitness and endurance on the European circuit for the next two weeks. The only Indian girl to win a Super Series has got a decent draw at both the Denmark and French Open, and is expected to reach the semifinals without losing much sweat.
Saina, who arrived in Odense on Sunday, insists that the draw is tough. "The players featuring in the draw list are lower ranked but they have been playing very well these days. It is going to be tough," Saina, who would be facing Porntip Buranaprasertsukof Thailand in the first round on Wednesday, told TOI.