Saina must win all England, world Championship, says coach Vimal Kumar

April 03, 2015 19:58
Saina must win all England, world Championship, says coach Vimal Kumar

Saina Nehwal has risen to a career-best world No. 1 in the latest world badminton rankings but her coach Vimal Kumar feels winning the All-England and the world championship should be the ultimate challenge.

Saina Nehwal has been on a roll in the world super series circuit. In Delhi last week, Saina became the world's No. 1 shuttler, en route to winning her maiden national super series, the Indian Open. On Friday, she entered the semifinals of the Malaysia Open, a tournament fielding the best Chinese players.

Rankings can be short-lived. At the peak of their careers, top players pick and choose their tournaments. Rankings are nothing much an acknowledgement of a player's international status. And no one understands this better than Saina's current coach, former national champion Vimal Kumar. What does the No. 1 ranking mean to Vimal?

"The World No. 1 rank will give a higher profile to her and the game in India. But I am sure both of us will be happier if Saina wins the two big titles -- the All England and the world championships," Vimal Kumar told Mid-day.

Saina came close to winning the All England recently. Starting as the overwhelming favourite, Saina lost to Spain's Carolina Marin in three games. It was heartbreak of sorts because Saina would have become the first Indian women to win the Wimbledon of badminton. Two men - Prakash Padukone and Saina's ex-coach Pullela Gopichand - have achieved this feat.

"All said and done, Birmingham is still the most glamorous stage and the world championships the most important trophy on the shelf. Of course, next year's Olympics is going to be our focus from now on," said Vimal Kumar.

In London in 2012, Saina won the Olympic bronze. She was a lucky winner after her Chinese rival and world No. 2 Wang Xin was laid low by an injured knee. Wang had won the first game and was leading in the second when she conceded the match to Saina.

The Chinese players will remain Saina's biggest challenge in Rio. Vimal Kumar says Saina has the game and is quickly learning the mental aspect to stay at the top.

"I have emphasised to her that every tournament has to be taken as the most important thing happening and every match has to be taken as the most important one. We cannot rest on laurels in sports. Today and now is what counts. I think she has understood the message," said Vimal Kumar.


- Manohar

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Saina Nehwal  Vimal Kumar  badminton