Badminton star PV Sindhu has said she is "feeling good" and hopeful of going the distance at the All England Open Badminton Championships 2018, starting March 14 in Birmingham.
Notably, the All England Championships has continuously eluded women's singles shuttlers while only two men's singles shuttlers — Prakash Padukone (1980) and Pullela Gopichand (2001) — have stood on the top step of the podium at the tournament.
The world no. 4 is banking on her improved defence and it has come as a big boost to her confidence ahead of the much-anticipated campaign in Birmingham.
Sindhu has not managed to go past the quarter-final stage at the BWF World Tour Super 1000 tournament. She faced a straight-game defeat to Tai Tzu Ying last year while she was ousted as early as in the first round in 2016.
Nonetheless, Sindhu will have to shoulder the burden of expectations as she has been the face of India's campaign at high-profile events in the recent past.
The 22-year-old shuttler, with her silver medal-winning performances at Rio Olympics in 2016 and world championships in 2017, has proved she is capable of coping with pressure and is being known for stepping up in major tournaments.
"I am working hard and am fit. Every year is different, but this year I am feeling good. I will give my best and hopefully go the distance this year," Sindhu told Times of India.
"I have improved a lot. My confidence levels have gone up. There are a lot of changes in my game. I have improved my defence and also the way I play different strokes," she added.
Can't pick a favorite but...
Sindhu, who is seeded fourth at the upcoming Championships, believes the women's singles field has become highly competitive and insists there will be no "easy matches" for her.
While maintaining that it is difficult to pick a favorite for the Super 1000 tournament, she said facing the likes of Tai, Ratchanok Intanon, and Akane Yamaguchi will be a tough ask.
Sindhu will start her campaign in Birmingham as the fourth seed. She has been handed a relatively easier draw when compared to her older compatriot Saina Nehwal, who will face world no. 1 Tai Tzu Ying as early as in the first round.
Sindhu will face world no. 22 Pornpawee Chochuwong in the opening round and is likely to take on reigning world champion Nozomi Okuhara in what is already one of the much-anticipated encounters in the upcoming tournament.
"I don't think so [handed an easy draw]. I consider it as a tough draw. We don't get easy matches in a tournament like All England. We have to fight from the start and it will be tough from the first round," Sindhu said.
"I think everyone in top 10 is of the same standard. It is difficult to judge and it will be tough against any of them. We can't pick a favorite. But if you ask me to pick three, then it would be Tai Tzu Ying, Ratchanok Intanon, and Akane Yamaguchi."