An evening in Paris

By T S Sudhir

(video of my story aired on NDTV24x7)

Saina Nehwal’s adoring fans will hope she will not be in India to receive the Rajiv Khel Ratna award to be given away by President Pratibha Patil on the evening of Sunday, the 29th of August. That’s because they would rather see the world number 2 in action in Paris playing the finals of the world championship in the French capital the same day. And they will hope it will be an evening in Paris to celebrate, cherish and remember !

20-year-old Saina, quite possibly, wouldn’t have seen `An evening in Paris’, the 1967 Shammi Kapoor-Sharmila Tagore starrer. But a DVD of `3 Idiots’ will be part of her hand baggage to take away some of the stress built up by the expections of India’s badminton lovers. This Aamir-SRK fan who leads the Indian team, has a first round bye but faces a tough draw thereafter.

The same month last year, all of India had expected to cheer Saina to a title win at the world championship in hometown Hyderabad. But a bout of chicken pox ruined her preparation for the big-ticket tournament, though she still managed to reach the quarters. This time, Saina has improved in ranking, fitness and preparation.

“All over, this year, I have improved quite a lot over last year and I am in much better shape. I am moving quite good on court,” she says.

Yes, her defence and side play remain areas of concern where her coaches have focussed on. Those are also areas where the Chinese will mark her out.

“They really will try and find out which is the area where I can be beaten. They are doing all those things. During the tournament also, they will take videos of my matches, ” she says and with a chuckle, adds, “But then, I am also going to do the same with them.”

Coach Bhaskar Babu, who was by Saina’s side during her victories in the three tournaments in Chennai, Singapore and Jakarta in June, however strikes a word of caution.

“If she gets to the quarters, we can hope for the title. But the concern is exactly when she will hit peak form.”

Bhaskar says Saina could train only for five weeks before the championship while she needs atleast 7-8 weeks to peak. “If we are lucky, Saina may reach peak form during the championship.”

The fast courts at Paris would test the fitness of every player. Saina is confident she won’t run out of breath. She has played on these courts before and has done well too. Either way, we will be watching you play with bated breath, Saina.


About t s sudhir & uma sudhir

Uma Sudhir and T S Sudhir are senior journalists, based in Hyderabad. Both work for NDTV. Uma is a Tamilian, who was educated in
This entry was posted in Saina Nehwal and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to An evening in Paris

  1. Serenity Stupidity says:

    Hi Tss,

    You have summarized the mood and mindset of the fans well, Thanks.

    I will be tense regarding Saina, given her preparation. Also. it is the first time she is hitting top class competition, after achieving super stardom that followed her triple victories.

    But, this tense feeling is more out of great expectations for moving up to No. 1, and tension is part of nervous energy. I think she will do good, and fans have some great years to look forward.

    By the way, do u do a quick find for the word “Sania” at the end of post on Saina, just to ensure you do not have a typo ? I realize that this typo is so easy. And, this, is in Absolutely no way meant, to “put down” Sania in any way. I respect and like Sania just the way when she shot to fame first. It is tough in tennis nowadays to be right at the top, after age 23, for women players. Sania, will always hold a special place in Indian sports, especially tennis and women in sports.

    3 Cheers Saina !!!

    Millions are waiting to go to sleep feeling a proud “No. 1” ! Its not an individual sport for u anymore !!

    • Serenity Stupidity says:

      Argh ! Hi Tss, I thought the match was at late night IST, and was just switching on the TV, when i got the bolt from blue, on NDTV.

      I hope she gets a warm hug from someone. Sorry saina, but its ok, lot of tournaments ahead.

      You were right, the fast courts, they did seem to be affecting her stamina.

      Never mind Jewel, forget it and relax and enjoy the future matches, do not think about No. 1.

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