Indian badminton national chief coach Pullela Gopichand hailed Saina Nehwal's recent form and said the coaching staff had tweaked the ace shuttler's training programme to help her hone her technique and improve her fitness levels.
Nehwal, it seems, has successfully put her injury woes behind in the ongoing season as she has been showing glimpses of her vintage self. A knee injury had marred her campaigns in the second half of 2016 season and had its impact on the shuttler's performances last year as well.
The 28-year-old shuttler's renewed confidence is evident by the way she has gone about her business in the last two months. By her own admission, Nehwal has never been as swift on the court as she has been in the last few months.
The London Olympic bronze medalist won her second individual Commonwealth Games gold medal in Gold Coast last month after coming with a ruthless display of badminton against younger compatriot and higher-ranked PV Sindhu in the gold medal match.
Nehwal continued her good run at the Badminton Asia Championships in April and went on to win her third bronze medal at the continental tournament.
The Hyderabad shuttler made sure she did not go down without a fight in the semi-final against eventual champion Tai Tzu Ying. Nehwal's improved fitness was on display as she pushed the Chinese Taipei star to the limits in a two-game encounter.
"Overall, she [Saina] has done really well. Last few months have been very good. In fact, the last month has been fantastic," Gopichand told International Business Times, India.
The former All England champion added: "We just tweaked her program a little bit, worked on basics. We just changed a few things in her footwork.
"She has a much-improved fitness now. Her strength levels have gone up. We have also worked on her movement on court.
"And overall, it's a culmination of many things that have contributed to her recent performances."
Srikanth, Sindhu rested from Thomas and Uber Cup squads due to injuries: Gopichand
Meanwhile, Gopichand also clarified that PV Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth were rested for Thomas and Uber Cup tournament, starting May 20 in Jakarta, as the top-ranked singles shuttlers are carrying injuries.
The 44-year-old coach added the youngsters in the squad will gain a lot of exposure from playing against the best in the team tournament.
The Badminton Association of India has named weakened squads for both the Thomas and Uber Cup campaigns. Along with Srikanth, the top-ranked men's doubles pairing of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty will not be travelling the men's unit to Jakarta.
On the other hand, Sikki Reddy and Ashwini Ponnappa's absence comes as a huge blow to the women's team chances of finishing on the podium.
"They have been injured and they're just recovering from injury. As of now, it's none of it [impact of crammed BWF calendar]. It's that they are carrying injuries and they just need time to rest and recover," Gopichand said.
"Well, I think it [Thomas and Uber Cup] is a tough tournament. But they [young shuttlers] will get to play some good matches. It will, of course, be a very good experience for young players."
India squad for Thomas Cup
Singles: HS Prannoy, B Sai Praneeth, Sameer Verma, Lakshya Sen
Doubles; Manu Attri/Sumeeth Reddy, Shlok Ramchandran/MR Arjun, Sanyam Shukla/Arun George.
India squad for Uber Cup
Singles: Saina Nehwal, Vaishnavi Reddy, Sri Krishna Priya Kudaravalli, Anura Prabhudesai, Vaishnavi Bhale
Doubles: Prajakta Sawant/Sanyogita Ghorpade, Poorvisha S Ram/Meghana J.