‘It’s all about preparation’: Gopi

After his protégé Saina Nehwal had won her second Super Series title, coach PULLELA GOPICHAND tells DEV S SUKUMAR that all the hard work has paid off

Initial reactions?
Very good result… and very happy.

Saina had lost to Li Xuerui at the Asian Championships in April. How did you plan to reverse that result?
Well, nothing really different. Saina was tactically better prepared this time. She was more confident. Saina always plays well the second time she faces a particular player. At the Asian Championships she was playing Xuerui for the first time.

The result against world champion Lu Lan was quite impressive…
She had to be prepared for a long game. She had to stay in the match and it was important to keep attacking. She fought hard. Lu Lan was leading in the second game (15-13), but once Saina got the opportunity, she closed it out.

After the Indonesian win last year, she kept losing to the Chinese. Was it worrying both of you?
Not really. It was a question of preparing well. All the matches she lost were very close.

How has Saina evolved as a player over the last year?
If you look at her results since December, she has won three titles and been in two semifinals. Within this format there aren’t many with her kind of consistency. Whatever we have been working on is showing results.

Has her training changed, or are you sticking with what has worked previously?
It’s evolving. There are some changes… nothing very different, just basic stuff. When she’s fit, she’s on top of her game. At the moment, she’s one of the fittest girls on the circuit.

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About badmintonmania

Sometimes I wonder if I'm the Indian in Thoreau's Walden who makes cane baskets and is surprised nobody wants them. A. was talking about discipline when she said: "But Dev, if you want to move ahead in life, you'll have to be like that," and she may as well have defined everything else for me. I've played the low percentage game for too long to believe there's anything in it but the romance; the odds keep getting jacked up higher and higher; and you may be a good Idealist but a worse Fool.
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