Saina spoke to espnstar.com's Sudeer Mahavaadi, going over an array of subjects, including tournaments to come, fellow-players and other issues. Excerpts:
Excerpts from an exclusive interview
Sudeer Mahavaadi: Saina, after the Olympics, you have not played in any tournament. So tell us about the upcoming Denmark and France Open tourneys?
Saina Nehwal: Well, I am certainly going with a positive frame of mind, although I am not hundred percent fit and prepared for these, let me be very frank. Yes, it is true that I have not played in any tourney after the Olympics. In fact, it has been pretty hectic attending functions all over. Although I have not missed practice sessions, I could not concentrate the way we always do. Gopi sir, as usual, has guided me well. I can say I am back to business again despite a couple of small injuries I am carrying.
I had to miss the Chinese Open and the other tournaments. A spell of rest, too, was very important for me after the Olympics. You need to recharge your batteries and that is what I have been doing. But these two tournaments are mandatory for me to participate. I cannot afford to opt out since they are superior ones. I will just have a go at these and get ready for the other upcoming events. I am not sure of hundred percent good show as I mentioned, but my next aim is to do better in the next All England and World Championship.
SM: Needless to say, the Chinese will be tough to face. Are you happy with the draw?
SN: I am playing World No. XI and if I overcome this first hurdle, I hope I can perform better. Overall, I am happy with the draw. Sure, it is going to be very tough as the cream will be seen in action. I am working hard on my fitness and as usual, under Gopi sir's guidance. He has always been there to help me and I have just followed his instructions on how to cope up with the tough situations.
SM: How does it feel to be the richest badminton player in the world at the moment?
SN: First of all, I wholeheartedly thank everyone who have supported me in my growth. I also thank God and my parents. I have realised this fact that if you heed what the coaches advise you sincerely, with hundred percent dedication and commitment, nothing succeeds you like success. It has been a decade-long journey so far and I am proud to be an Indian. I have never got carried away with whatever I have achieved. I know that there are tougher hurdles I have to overcome and if I get the same kind of support, I am sure I will achieve more in the future.
SM: That means your aim should be to either win a gold in the next Olympics or to become No.1 soon?
SN: The way I have progressed in recent times, beating almost every player in some or the other tournament, I am quite confident that it is in the offing for me in the future. Olympics is a pretty long way from now and you never know what suddenly happens with the sportspersons. Let me be very frank about it. For sure, I will be number one in ranking one day.
SM: What is your thought on the juniors like Sindhu, who has been pretty impressive and what would you suggest to them?
SN: I am pretty delighted that Sindhu, Sai Praneeth and Pragnya are growing by leaps and bounds. Sindhu, in particular, has been superb in recent times. I think she is the player to watch out for in future. I don't think I can suggest them anything as they are pretty mature now. I just want to tell them that never get carried away by anything - just be focussed all the time, whether you play a smaller tournament or bigger ones.
SM: Recently, you also missed the Nationals in Srinagar. Don't you think that if players like you don't play, there would be no charm left. Something like this is happening in domestic cricket as well these days.
SN: Yes, that is true. I also read this. But when it comes to me, I have always given equal importance to both. It is not that I never played Nationals. I have won it twice, don't forget. Sometimes, what happens is if you are playing an international event immediatley, you have to opt out of the Nationals in order to focus more on that. I am sure no one does this in any sport deliberately.