Handling pressure will be key: Saina Nehwal
Olympic bronze medallist Saina Nehwal feels that though India have "very good chances" of reaching the knockout stage of the Uber Cup, the team which handles the pressure better will emerge winner.
India is hosting the prestigious biennial badminton event for the first time at the Siri Forts Sports Complex here May 18-25. India have drawn Thailand, Canada and Hong Kong in Group C and the World No.8 has been named as the team's captain.
"All teams will be under pressure but those who will be able to handle it better will come out the winner. It will be a tense event. The momentum is very important. I will play the first singles and if I win, my team will get the confidence and the momentum. Otherwise the pressure will fall on the next players," said the former World No.2.
Each tie will have three singles and two doubles rubbers and India will first take on Canada (May 18), followed by Hong Kong (May 19) and Thailand (May 20). Two of the four teams from the group will qualify for the quarterfinals.
"We have better chances against Hong Kong and Canada but against Thailand we have to be very careful and alert. They will be tough because their singles and doubles are very strong. Ratchanok Intanon, the reigning world champion, is strong competitor and their second and third singles will also provide good competition," added the 24-year-old.
The Commonwealth Games gold medallist, however, was upbeat about India's chances, adding that the team is quite strong.
"This team has more confidence. Earlier, we never had such a strong team. We have been training hard for the last one month. We did well at the Asia Championships recently where P.V. Sindhu and women's doubles pair of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa won bronze medals. Personally, I believe we have very good chances of making the quarterfinals," said Saina.
Talking about her own form, Saina started the season on a high, winning the India Grand Prix Gold in Lucknow in January, her first title in 15 months. But since then she has only been able to make the quarterfinals of All England, Swiss Open and India Open with a first round exit in Singapore Open.
"Expectations are always there when I am playing. Winning and losing is part of the game. My job is to keep working hard on the mistakes I make. Sometimes people only see wins, not the quarterfinal and semifinal performances. I know wins are important and can happen anytime but form is not permanent. Even top Chinese players go through ups and downs," Saina said.
(Posted on 14-05-2014)