"I want to see what all injuries my body can cope with," says Saina Nehwal after first-round win
Making a comeback at the India Open, former World No. 1 Indian badminton star Saina Nehwal talked about her fitness troubles after winning first-round clash.
Playing in her first tournament since October 2021, Saina Nehwal looked rusty yet strong enough to go the mile and get the win - which is exactly how the narrative panned out in the first game of her first-round match at the ongoing Yonex-Sunrise India Open 2022.
Up against Czech Republic's Tereza Svabikova, Saina Nehwal was leading for the better part of the first game till Svabikova really caught up with her and changed the momentum of the match. Saina did manage to eke past her and pocket the first game, 22-20, Tereza suffered an unfortunate injury during the process and had to retire just as soon as the second game began.
Speaking in the post-match Mixed Zone interaction at the India Open, the former World No. 1 shuttler said, "Playing after so long gives you the match confidence...how to pull out those points, because in practice you don't have the privilege to play points with the same intensity as you do in tournaments. The quality of some of the points I got today...I hope it somehow helps me tomorrow," she resolved.
Saina Nehwal's form not being what it used to be has been the talking point in recent times and the European leg of the BWF season in 2021 saw Nehwal retiring in a couple of matches, provoking concerns of worry.
Opening up about her struggles with injuries that seem to be peppered all across her career now, Nehwal explained, "I had three issues with my knee - I tore my cartilage, I had an issue with my patella...and meniscus..also got irritated...the knee went through a lot of trauma because it happened over a lot of months and finally the stage came where I could not walk after the French Open. I was worried about my groin..but it was actually my knee," Nehwal remarked.
The 31-year-old player, who became India's first poster girl for badminton is clearly not at her best yet but she is on the journey to recovery. "I'm happy with my rehab...I could have some good practice for 7-8 days before the tournament. I'm happy that I could play the match level but I was not expecting to play at the India Open," she revealed, having spent the last few months in knee rehabilitation.
Admitting the truth, Saina Nehwal said, "I am 60-70% good right now. I have to continue rehab to get my knee fully strong. I cannot sit back. By January end, I should be able to get back to my physical fitness level," the Haryanvi shuttler said, showing that she still has the hunger left to go out there and compete for more, even after having achieved so much in her well-decorated career so far.
Recalling her match against Sayaka Takahashi at the French Open 2021 where Nehwal had to retire after losing the first game 21-11 and lagging behind at 9-2 in the second, Nehwal is not one to be shy about the struggles she is having of late with her groin and knee but she also confessed that this isn't an exclusive issue.
"My stiffness levels and recovery levels were really good in last 3-4 months. But then I had a bad slip and my groin got a tear....I didn't even know the knee was ongoing with some kind of issues that really got bad in the French Open," Nehwal mentioned in the post-match interaction.
"This all happened suddenly...I didn't even know till that match that it (knee) was so bad...I could at least walk, go up and down the stairs before...I don't know how that knee thing happened but it happens to all the players. It's a challenge - I want to accept the challenge. Let us see what all injuries I can cope with and come back stronger," Nehwal said, the boorish mentality clubbed with her champion spirit shining through, as she moves ahead to the second round of the India Open.