New Delhi: The mentor, Pullela Gopichand and protege, Saina Nehwal are back on the same page and the former All England Champion is happy that his favourite ward has learnt from her past mistakes as they embark on 'Mission London'.
"We had few issues, but it's good that she came back having learnt from those mistakes, so it is much better for her future," national coach Gopichand told PTI in an exclusive interview.
"It is important now that we all work together to make sure that she gets back on track, because a talent like Saina is not easily available and it's important that we maximise the amount of results we get out of her," Gopichand stated.
The former All England champion though, conceded that he was worried about Saina's form but insisted the slump was expected in a way.
"Yes, I am concerned about her form ahead of the Olympics, but I am confident that we will get back. If you look at her entire career graph, it has always been on rise and rise, so it was in a way expected at least from my perspective," he reasoned.
The coach revealed that there were a few changes in the training regimen of the 21-year-old but a busy world calendar is proving to be an impediment towards implementing the schedule in full.
"There are a few changes we have done but unfortunately the world calendar of events doesn't let you relax. It is very harsh on players. We don't have the luxury of having an off-season to physically change a few things in our program. It has to be done while on tour and yes, it will take some time," the mentor informed.
He said there was no doubt in Saina's ability but her fitness level needs to improve.
"I am not doubting her killer instinct, but yes, I think few areas need to be reworked, her fitness has to go up and her confidence has to come back and once these couple of things happen she will be back on track," Gopichand said.
He also maintained that Saina had a huge appetite for winning, which he described was a rare attribute.
"She has a lot more belief in her and the desire to win is very-very intense. Not many players have that kind of huge desire to win," he added.
Gopichand, also praised the doubles pair of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa and said they are serious contenders for a medal at next year's quadrennial extravaganza.
"They have advantage in terms of mental strength. They have beaten top players in the past and I do believe we have a combination which is a potential medal hope at the Olympics," said the national coach.
He was though a bit skeptical about some of the senior pros in the men's section.
"When you look at their ages, (Parupalli) Kashyap is 24 and Ajay Jayaram is 24 where as Chetan (Anand) is around 30-31. So I wouldn't say Chetan has many years, I would say probably a couple of years more.
"But as far as Kashyap and Ajay are concerned, I think they still have five to six years of badminton left in them and the coming years will be be better than what past has been," was the national coach's frank assessment.
Gopichand was also hopeful of the young upcoming players.
"We have players like Sai Praneeth, H S Prannoy, P V Sindhu, we have Sameer Verma, we have K Shrikant, Praful Joshi, there are about 8-10 juniors who have been doing well," he concluded.