Bangalore: Reiterating her decision to skip the Japan Open Super Series in Tokyo later this month, World No.4 Saina Nehwal said she needs more than two weeks of rest to recover after the hectic Indian Badminton League (IBL) that concluded Aug 31.
“Two weeks are not enough for my body to recover and so I am not playing Japan Open. It will not affect my ranking. I do not have any points to defend since I didn’t play there last year also,” the 23-year old said here Saturday.
As she deftly defended inevitable questions about her much-hyped matches with India’s latest sensation P.V. Sindhu in the IBL, Saina emphasised that her focus was on winning matches for her team, the Hyderabad Hotshots, who went on to emerge champions.
“I had to give my 100 percent and do my best for the team,” said Saina, stressing that it was not about playing against an individual player.
As for the IBL, the Olympic bronze medallist was optimistic that the franchise-based million-dollar tournament would grow and improve over the years after overcoming some teething issues in its inaugural edition.
“IBL is important for the sport and it will help badminton to grow. There might have been some organisational issues like match timings, but for next year we will certainly work on some changes,” she said.
To another question regarding the popularity of the IBL vis-à-vis its richer cricketing cousin, the Indian Premier League (IPL), Saina said it was early days to even compare the two despite some similarities in terms of franchise teams and innovations.
“I am happy that someone asked for the first time whether IBL will be able to catch up with IPL. Right now, we can’t compare the two but I am certain that IBL will grow in popularity and may be some day catch up with IPL,” said the Hyderabadi.
Dwelling on this season, Saina admitted that injuries had affected her game.
“I am trying to do well every year but after the 2012 Olympics, there were issues like my toe injury. I gradually found my rhythm and hopefully I will do better next year,” she said.
Meanwhile, 1980 All-England champion Prakash Padukone also endorsed Saina’s sentiments on the IBL though declining to go into the details, citing his holidaying in Europe that coincided with the tournament.
“I was in Europe and returned home only yesterday so I cannot really comment on the IBL. However, from what little I have seen, the IBL has been a success and the media coverage was phenomenal. In terms of organisational aspects, I am sure they can be improved upon, but the IBL is a good sign for Indian badminton,” said Padukone while being non-committal about his possible involvement in IBL next year.
“It is too early. The tournament got over only recently. However, if I am approached, then I will certainly consider,” said Padukone.
On 18-year-old Sindhu’s achievements, including wining the bronze in last month’s World Championships, Padukone said that the teenager has the potential to reach the top.
“It was a great achievement. Sindhu has a long way to go and has to work hard. She has the potential and is still very young. The rivalry (between Sindhu and Nehwal) is good for Indian badminton and hopefully they will play more matches. It would be great to see them at the Olympic finals,” Padukone said.