Saina Nehwal was bogged down with injuries in the last quarter of 2015, which prevented her from playing quality badminton. India's superstar shuttler had to even play through pain in some major tournaments last year. Saina also did not participate in a number of competitions early this year, but recently played in the All England Open and India Open — both Superseries events.
Saina's movement in court during the All England Open was quite slow, and her performances below par: She lost to Tai Tzu Ying in the quarterfinals.
However, there was a marked improvement in the India Open as she looked comfortable in front of her home fans, who supported her to the hilt. Also, her movement was much better, and she came up with a brilliant game to defeat Sung Ji Hyun in the quarters, but lost to Li Xuerui in the last four.
Despite the loss, there was plenty of encouraging signs for the shuttler, who played some wonderful badminton. Saina even showed glimpses of her past, playing those delicate drop shots and efficient smashes down the line. With Saina improving on her fitness and getting into her groove, a lot is expected from the player in the Malaysia Open Superseries, which starts Wednesday.
The Malaysian Superseries will witness top players like Carolina Marin, Ratchanak Intanon and Xuerui battling for the prestigious competition. Saina needs to deliver her A game to emerge top amongst such quality shuttlers.
She has not had much practice in the year so far due to her injuries, but in the run-up to the Rio Olympics, it is such intriguing contests against some top shuttlers that will keep her in perfect shape.
"I am analysing better. But because of the injury, the match practice is less. When you come out of injury and play against such tough opponents, you feel everything is new. I played two tournaments and I was good but here I was better, You need to play with them more," Press Trust of India quoted Saina as saying.
Saina will face Nitchaon Jindapol in the first round of the Malaysia Open, and is expected to face much tougher opponents as the competition progresses.