Chennai: India’s shuttling pride, Saina Nehwal returned home to a rousing welcome by fans and well wishers after she clinched the Indonesian Open title, thus completing a hat-trick of title wins.
Sending a clear message to all those who tried to bog her down, she said, “I’ve proved all my critics wrong.”
Addressing a press conference in her hometown Hyderabad, Saina said, “My mental strength has helped me win, can’t believe I’ve won three titles back to back, it was a little bit tiring but I was always confident I want to be injury-free, want to train harder.”
Saina made clear that the world number 1 ranking was playing on her mind but her priority was to win tournaments and rest all would fall in place. “For me, working hard is important, not rankings, I believe that my training is good, I’m confident. I can win many international tournaments.”
On being asked about the turning point in her Badminton career, she was quick to say that the Olympics were a stepping stone for her and they motivated her to do more.
Officials and media thronged to greet her and Tamil Nadu Badminton Association gave her a grand welcome at the Chennai airport from where she left for her home-town Hyderabad.
Speaking to reporters, the No 3 badminton player in the world said: "I can not believe I won three tournaments in a row. One thing led to another. From Grand Prix to the Singapore Open and now the Indonesia Super Series ".
Being extremely humble and practical after the historic wins, she said that the elusive No 1 rank was still not her top priority and said that even the number three ranking was unexpected as she is simply hoping to concentrate on her best game rather than such milestones.
"Playing lesser tournaments this year, has helped me train more and therefore win more tournaments," Saina said.
Saina added, "I just like winning, that`s my motivation". She also praised her coach and former champion Pullela Gopichand and called him her biggest inspiration. "Gopichand has been my biggest inspiration - he has stood by me, even in rough times," she said.
Wary of the tough competition she’d have in the coming months, she said, "All my competitors are playing so well, it is hard to say who my biggest competitor is."
"To beat the World No 1 is going to be the toughest at the World Championships and Commonwealth Games. On the international level, you never know who`s going to put up a big fight. I am going to prepare myself to face all my opponents," she added.