Saina Nehwal
Saina Nehwal will face Marija Ulitina from Ukraine on Sunday.IANS

PV Sindhu is on cloud nine, grabbing headlines ever since her splendid silver medal winning performance at Rio Olympics. Her story is in contrast with another Indian shuttler, Saina Nehwal, who was expected to bring medal from Rio. But an unfortunate knee injury denied any chance of glory to India and the 26-year-old underwent a surgery four days ago as well.

Saina, the former world number one, played with pain throughout the Games, but failed to progress beyond the group stage. She lost to world number 61 from Ukraine to exit the competition.

After coming to India, the Indian shuttler witnessed history being made with Sindhu becoming the first woman from the country to win an Olympics silver medal. Sindhu has won laurels and selected for awards, including the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna.

Saina, in the run up to the Olympics, was at her menacing best. She played quality badminton and won the Australian Open Superseries. She was ready for another medal in Rio, but the knee injury failed her and India. Now, Saina will only make a comeback in the international circuit after a few months.

Saina's coach, Vimal Kumar believes that Saina is going through the 'toughest moment' in her career. "She was in good shape and people expected her to win something at Rio. She's one of the most high-profile athletes in India, so a lot of questions are always asked of her," Hindustan Times quoted Kumar as saying.

"But then to all of a sudden have such an injury during the tournament is very tough to deal with mentally. It's very sad to digest, but that is what sport is all about. She will have to start from scratch from here on. But it all depends on how she deals with the injury. With the right mindset, the instance can even toughen you up," her added.

Saina will not be seen on the badminton court for some time, and her coach believes that she will need to focus on regaining her strength after her knee heals.

The Indian shuttler needs to be extra careful as she has been troubled by injuries since last year. She will also need time to regain her form and perform at her top level.

"For the next three-four weeks, she will rest till her knee heals. After that, she will start her rehab where the focus will be on regaining her strength. Having rested for so many days, she will need to get the strength back in her quadriceps and hamstring particularly. We can also try making her hit some standing strokes. As for her rhythm, it will only take her 10 days to get it back," Kumar said.