The Indonesian Open, which she won yesterday, had all the four top ranked Chinese shuttlers and the Indian World No 5 showed that she is ready to challenge the Chinese again at the London Olympics.
In Jakarta yesterday, Saina was up against a player, who had defeated her most times in the past — Li Xuerui. The reigning All England and Asian champion from China must have felt supremely confident against Saina. After all, Li had lost only once to the Indian in the last five encounters. But Saina won a tantalisingly close match, overcoming a first game debacle, 13-21, 22-20, 21-19, showing great courage and
The big question now is, what’s in store for Saina at London? The Chinese camp may be in turmoil, but they never take to defeats lying down. They will go hammer and tongs at trying to devise new tactics to stop the marauding Indian, who is now threatening to snatch gold at the Olympics.
For Saina, the best thing is that she will be fearless. She has bested the very best of what the world could throw at her. She has taken the measure of the fabled Chinese, the hard-working Koreans and the not to-be–dismissed-easily Japanese. Her training is on track and so is her confidence. Her fitness has been helped by a five-kilo weight loss. That she could defeat Wang Shixian in a 97-minute encounter and still retain that extra edge to win her semis and the final with stamina and focus to spare, speaks volumes of her determination. One only hopes that Saina has not peaked too early. But given her performance in last two weeks, one can safely say that she knows what it takes to go for gold at the Olympics. The Olympic qualification rule of only three players can represent a country, will help. This means that although all top four world-ranked are Chinese girls, one will have to be dropped by their national federation. But then, Saina is ready for anything.