Hyderabad: World Championship silver medallist shuttler Saina Nehwal feels her decision to change base to Bangalore under Vimal Kumar's tutelage turned out to be a masterstroke as it helped her regain her game and prolong her career, which was in serious doubt last year.
Saina reiterated that she contemplated quitting last year following a string of poor performances but Vimal came as a saviour and instilled confidence and self belief in her.
"It really really helped (decision to shift to Bangalore) and everyone can see that. A lot has changed since then. I have changed as a person. As of now I have become World no. 1, won China and India Open, reached the finals of All England and World Championships. All these happened only as I moved to Bangalore," Saina said after returning from World Championship in Jakarta, where she lost to Spain's Carolina Marin in final.
"It was a move from Hyderabad but I did it because I wanted to improve and I think it was a good decision. Vimal Sir's influence is the biggest change. I really want to thank him for spending so much time with me in the court and making me believe everyday that I am a champion, I can be number one.
"Even physically I am feeling much better. It's because, when you get personal attention you are naturally going to improve. The whole attention is on you. He is working on areas in which I am weak," Saina pointed out.
A year ago, things were not going according to plan and Saina thought of quitting badminton after last year's World Championships following a series of defeats. But training under Vimal helped Saina rediscover herself.
"I was thinking about quitting (last year) because I thought I was getting irritated with the kind of performances I was giving. I was not happy with the way I was playing. It was not happening, I was not finding out ways to win. It was getting challenging for me because I knew I was a world class player," Saina said.
"Losing without a fight was not me. That was not the Saina I knew and only because of that I felt 'why push yourself like this'. That moment Vimal Sir joined the Uber Cup team after a long time. He worked on my game and I started winning games in Uber Cup and then I won the Australian Open."
Having created history by becoming the first Indian woman to enter the finals of the World Championship, Saina is now all geared up for next year's Rio Olympics.
"It's (World Championship medal) one of the special medals because it is going to give me lot more confidence to be ready for the Olympics. That is for sure. Olympics will have the same players coming in. Olympics come every four years. It will be lot more pressure. But same kind of players will be there," she said. This was the first time that Saina managed to clear the quarterfinal jinx and she said it came as a "big relief".
"A big relief coming out of that quarterfinal stage. Now when I play the big events, the only thing that will be in my mind is to win the tournament," she said.
Saina said she tired her best to win the final match. "Of course, when you reach finals, you want to win it. Even I wanted to do that. Sometimes, things does not fall in place. But I gave my best. I am very happy that I reached finals of two big events this year," she said.
"It was disappointing to lose in the finals. But I have to take the positive out of it."
Despite the 16-21 19-21 loss in the final, Saina became the world's numero uno shuttler. "I feel great. I am very happy that my performances are coming out well. The important thing is that I am able to give more medals to my country. It is a very proud moment for me. This will only help me to achieve many more good results in future," Saina said.
"I'm very happy that things are finally falling in place. With the kind of training I am doing results will come." Carolina seems to have become a thorn in the flesh for Saina as it is against the Spaniard that she lost in the final of the prestigious All England Championship earlier this year.
"I gave a much better account of myself in the World Championship than the All England final. I fought till the end here. But I need to find some ways to beat her (Carolina). She is in very good form. "The next time when I play her again I am sure I will be much better than this time," she said.