Saina Nehwal eyes German Open next; needs 'more time' to be at her best

Saina Nehwal is looking forward to playing in the German Open. AFP

Saina Nehwal is looking forward to playing in the German Open. AFP

Lucknow: A morale-boosting title win in Malaysia Masters secured, fit-again Indian badminton ace Saina Nehwal will now take a small break to continue her rehab and is likely to be seen in action at the German Open in February-March.

Saina won the Grand Prix Gold event in Malaysia on Sunday, her first title after a career-threatening knee injury, that had derailed her Olympic campaign in Rio.

The 26-year-old has decided to skip the Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold in Lucknow this week.

Asked if she would play any tournament ahead of the all-important All England Championship, Saina said: "Most probably German Grand Prix Gold, it depends on my fitness and how good I feel. I need a few good weeks to be at my best which I didn't get after I recovered from rehab."

Saina, who won the silver at All England and World Championship in 2015, said she doesn't want to exert herself as that might result in another injury.

"I just came out of such a major injury and I can't push my knee with back-to-back tournaments and get injured again," said the London Olympics Games bronze-medallist.

"I need to go into rehab and strengthen it because after a surgery you lose your muscle mass and strength which I need to keep improving. And of course rest is required for the knee," she said.

Saina endured a difficult season last year when an Achilles tendonitis affected her performance in the beginning of the year but she recovered to win the Australian Open.

The 2010 Commonwealth Games champion, however, developed pain in her knee and suffered a heartbreak at the Olympics, exiting early from the prestigious event.

Saina then had to go under the knife but she recovered well within three months to make a comeback into the international circuit at the China Open.

She eventually reached the quarterfinals at the Macau Open and Hong Kong Open, before beginning the new season with a morale-boosting win at Malaysia.

The girl from Hyderabad is satisfied with her progress but said she needs to gain in stamina and add more power to her game before taking on the best in the world at the Super Series circuit.

"But I'm happy I played some great badminton in last three weeks but to beat top level players, I need to be at my best and I still need some more time be at my best fitness," she said.

"It's not easy to perform unless you have the best fitness at the Super Series level or any international event. You have to be at your best so after the Malaysian Open, I feel very exhausted physically and mentally because after a long time I played finals and played very tough matches," added the former World No.1.

Published Date: Jan 23, 2017 18:25 PM | Updated Date: Jan 23, 2017 18:25 PM

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