With eyes on a tough, intriguing events calendar in the year ahead, Indian badminton star Saina Nehwal said she is not getting any younger and needs more time to rest and prepare for the big-ticket tournaments. Nehwal wants time to train for the All England Championship to be held at Birmingham from March 14 to 18.
"It is not about training, it is about giving time to my body. It is tough, it is a killing sport. It looks easy from outside that we are playing strokes. I don't want to just play. I want time to be fresh for tournaments," said Saina, who had reached the finals of All England in 2015.
Saina, who reached the final of Indonesia Masters last week, had written to Badminton Association of India (BAI) to allow her to withdraw from Asia Team Championship scheduled from February 6 to 11 at Alor Setar, Malaysia.
Playing the ABC will make it the third successive week for Saina, who is currently playing at the India Open following her final finish at Jakarta.
"I know people want me to play and want me to be there but what is the point when people say Saina lost and Saina is out of form. Then I have to face it, nobody else. It is a funny thing but I feel bad. I cry sometime because it is not easy to take.
"It is not easy for people to understand what we go through. I am not 20 anymore, I have to keep myself fit to be able to play for long and you see the calendar, it is a killing calendar and we don't know when and how many tournaments we will play and what happens next."
The ABC is a qualifier for the Uber Cup Final to be held at Bangkok in May and BAI wants Saina to play to enhance India's chance of making the prestigious event.
"You have to understand that I still need time. It is not that I haven't played for India. I have played enough Uber Cup and every time I played I have won all my matches," said Saina after reaching the second round.
"I have planned in such a way that I give good result in team events and big events. So I am mostly looking at Commonwealth Games and Asian Games, those are two targets for me.
"I want to challenge myself. Sometimes I play stupid strokes and I have to be smarter and I don't just want to play. I know if I am fit, I can win," she added.
(With PTI inputs)