Singapore: Former badminton ace Xiong Guabao feels that India's Saina Nehwal could be the only woman shuttler who can consistently beat the Chinese players even though she has lost a few crucial matches of late.
"Right now there is no one who can compete with the Chinese players and the only competitor who appears to have a chance to end their dominance is Saina Nehwal of India," said Guabao on the sidelines of the launch of a new brand of badminton racquet with scientifically-designed grip in collaboration with an Indian company, One Sports, on Wednesday.
Guabao, who won 13 major titles, including the Thomas Cup singles crown during 1980s and 1990s has not seen the Indian ace play "live" but from what he has seen on television, he felt that Saina has the skills to stop the Chinese juggernaut.
"She is a very talented player with strong skills. If she can put in the extra effort and improve her game she can do the job," the veteran said.
Guabao said that the girl from Hyderabad, currently ranked fourth in the world, carries huge burden of expectations of her countrymen.
"After winning the Indonesian Open she became famous and with that came tremendous pressure (to consistently do well)," said the 49-year-old player who hails from Guangzhou, China.
Guabao, who is now a renowned coach, said Dan is the best player he has seen in action from his playing days till now.
"Lin Dan has been the best. He is very fast on the court," Guabao said.
Guabao, who has never worked with the Chinese national team and does not intend to coach it in future too, said that the right grip should be imparted to the budding player at a very young age.
"Players like Lin Dan are 80 per cent correct in their grip but their other skills make them the champions they are," he said of his compatriot.
Guabao, who has coached the Thai national team in the past, said players with the right grip can turn their backhand skills into offensive weapons.
"I was a defensive player but my backhand skills turned into offensive weapons. They may not be as good as a smash (as an offensive weapon) but made me more accurate," he said.
"In badminton the backhand shots - the smash, clear or even drop shots - are beautiful to watch but difficult to execute with perfection.
"Playing with a Thwack racquet enables muscle memory and therefore the tricky shots of the game can be handled effectively with this racquet, making the game interesting, in addition to enhancing the skills of the players at all levels," he said.
One Sports' MD Akhil Ganatra said that he saw no problem in getting the green signal from the badminton authorities for the newly developed racquet.
"The racquet face is what is important to be regulated and not the grip. But we are not taking any chances and the coach (Guabao) is already in talks with the world badminton authorities for getting the green signal," he said after the launch.