London Olympics bronze medallist Saina Nehwal says the Glasgow World Championship made her realise that she needs to work harder on her stamina and beat tougher players to regain her place in the top-10. Former world number one Saina knocked Olympic champion Carolina Marin out of Denmark Open last night in the opening round to avenge her Japan Open second-round loss to the Spaniard.
"I have to play difficult players early because I am ranked 12 now. A lot of players who are ranked below me are getting good draws and before the match, I was thinking 'Oh my God' I am getting such tough draws. But I know I have to beat tough players to come back to top-10 again," Saina told PTI.
"The World Championship taught me a lesson that I have to work even harder on my stamina. I felt I was kind of tight in my hip and legs and of course my shots were also not sharp. Looking at the way (Nozomi) Okuhara has improved, Carolina and Sindhu's improvement, the way they were playing big rallies, I am just happy to come a little close but I have a lot of improvement to be done," she added.
Saina had settled for a bronze in World Championship in August after losing in the semifinals to Okuhara, an opponent she has beaten six times in the past.
The 2015 World Championship silver medallist Saina said though she was happy with the bronze, losing to Okuhara "pinched' her as she wanted to win the title.
"Any kind of victory feels good but I also wanted to win the tournament because I have beaten Okuhara so many times, so it pinched me but the way she was playing in the World Championship, the kind of retrievals she came up with was amazing," the 27-year-old said.
Saina gave credit to the coaching staff headed by Pullela Gopichand for working on her after she shifted base from Bangalore to Hyderabad, following the World Championship. She was training under Vimal Kumar for the last three years, which included her most difficult injury phase.
"The coaches worked really hard on me in the last three weeks. They told me that my movements were very heavy. Gopi sir found out at the World Championship that I was sort of falling down and I was not able to get up fast from the net and the players were catching me behind with fast tosses," she said.
"He was scared that I had just come in and so he did not give me very tough training, they just focussed that I get adapted to the training, so he was not pushing me very hard. All thanks to Mulyo (Handoyo), Gopi sir and Hariawan, three of them made a plan for me, made me believe that I had the game and I just need to work on my movement and sharpen my strokes, basically think smarter and not go all out."
A year ago, Saina had bowed out of the Rio Olympics after suffering from a knee problem and had to undergo a surgery. But she fought back to not only recover but also win the World Championship bronze medal in August.
Asked if she has any targets for next year, Saina said: "I just want to think about one tournament at a time. I don't trust my body nowadays, my body can do anything. I am just happy with the kind of training I did in this tournament.
(With PTI Inputs)