Nehwal: Australian Open win a big boost

Saina Nehwal admits her confidence is sky high ahead of the Rio Olympics – thanks to her Australian Open victory last month.

The 26-year-old clinched her second Australian Open title in June after defeating China's Sun Yu in a thrilling three-game final which lasted an hour and 11 minutes.

"The victory in Australia came at just the right time. I was really looking forward for some change and nothing boosts confidence like winning. I needed a win to keep believing that I am on the right track," she told PTI.

"I am working hard on my half smashes to get closer to my goals. It is wonderful to win Australian Open prior to the Olympics. It is very satisfying to beat two world champions and a junior world champion in one tournament," added the Hyderabad-born player.

Nehwal became the first Indian to win a medal in Badminton at the Olympics when she landed a Bronze medal at London 2012 and the world number five says she will need "peak" at the right time if she wants to repeat that feat.

"I take each tournament as it comes. Rio Olympics will also be like any other games. My approach to the game is very positive and I would like to keep it like that and focus on my game. I feel that on the day that I am 100 percent fit, I have the potential to defeat anyone," she continued.

"I feel I am fit. I am running nicely. At the end of the day, it's important that you reach the peak and play your best during that particular week. That's what will count ultimately and will be the key."

According to Nehwal, she owes much of her recent success to Vimal Kumar, who she has been training alongside in Bangalore for the past year and a half.

"Vimal Sir's influence is the biggest change. I really want to thank him for making me believe every day that I am a champion, I can be number one. Vimal Sir is helping me work on my half smashes and get closer to my goals.

"It's not easy to play at the highest level. I would like to give my best and like all the players my goal is also to come back with a gold medal. It's a big contingent going from India this time, so we hope to have a triumphant return with lots of medals."

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