Noida: A nine-month title drought notwithstanding, Saina Nehwal on Friday vowed to bounce back strongly at next month's world championship and said the much-needed six-week break after the Southeast Asian circuit will give her ample time to regain fitness and help her to win titles once again.
The world number three has been going through a lean patch for the last nine months as she has failed to win a single tournament.
In the last three tournaments -- Thailand Open, Indonesia Open and Singapore Open -- Saina had failed to go beyond the semifinals, but it doesn't seem to concern her much as she believes she can still win titles.
"It doesn't concern me that much because I know if I'm at my best I can win again. I was not happy with what was happening with me. Some small injuries can irritate you. You can't be at your best when you are injured. When you are tapping your knee. There were doubts in my mind," Saina told reporters on the sidelines of the launch of IBL's school program initiative -- shuttle express here.
"These were doubts like if I can train, if I can give 100 per cent. So good that I'm taking physiotherapy now. I'm taking good note and not thinking about what happened and giving my best again.
"I actually played just for a week before the three tournaments. Still I reached semis and quarters, and I also could not believe that I can play at this level, I can compete against these top players without even training. I was not fit enough.
"I got this six weeks break after a long time. I was not happy with my fitness. I needed that break but when I got that break (after India Open) my toe got fractured. At the starting of the year, I also had a knee injury but now I am okay and hopefully should come up with good performance in the World championship," she added.
The Olympic bronze medallist was also excited about the Indian Badminton League, starting from August 14-31.
"This is a great initiative by IBL to promote the sport. Everyone was playing well today. It's good to see interest growing in badminton, even in school there is improvement. We wanted these things to happen. I can see sporting facilities here, these things should happen in all school across India," said Saina, who gave lessons to the badminton enthusiasts during a clinic organised at Genesis Global school here.
Saina felt IBL will give a good platform for senior and junior players to showcase their talent.
"Performance was always there but badminton needed that popularity. We now have IBL. This is what we wanted. Badminton needed that sort of support. It is a nice platform for both juniors and seniors, who don't get to play many international events. It will give good exposure. It will help them to play more international events with the money," she said.
"IBL is a good start. You may not have players in first edition but might get 20 in the second editions. Now that they will be getting training and coaching, so I feel we will have many players coming up.
"I played India Open and Commonwealth Games in Delhi and people came to watch. IBL will be like Sudirman Cup, a team event, and it would be more entertaining. People will be excited and surely watch," she added.
Asked about the importance of big names in IBL franchises, Saina said: "Big names are important. People in India may not know who is Li Xuerui and Wang Yihan. If they play here, may be they will be popular in India. It happened in cricket as in IPL many players played and became popular in India, but in India not many people know badminton players."
Talking about China showing lack of interest in the IBL, Saina said: "Chinese need to be more open. It is such a big league. The prize money is double the amount one gets in super series. Of course, China also have some domestic tournaments but they need to be open. If Lin Dan or Yihan Wang come and play here, badminton will only become more popular.
"Now, that they know that India too have a league, they should come. I hope they come. But there are other players from Chinese Taipei, Thailand, etc who are coming."
The Commonwealth Games Champion stressed on the importance of having more academies and better facilities in India.
"We have one academy and one coach at that level. The infrastructure is important. We have the stadia but don't have coaches, players. In the academy we have 2-3 physios but not anywhere else. Things are changing now and kids want to become athletes. Though everyone wants to become cricketers, other sports are also being keenly followed," she said.
"In Asian countries every city has got hundreds of academies and thousands players play in cities. Every coach is either an Olympic champion or World champion. Yes, we are behind but the process has started. If such improvement happens in India then we will have more players and medals in badminton. There is a gap but like I showed it is possible, new players will also prove that in times to come."
Talking about the emerging talents of India, Saina said: "A lot of players are performing very good. It shows that they have got believe and confidence to play at the highest level. K Srikanth won in Thailand, Sindhu won in Malaysia. There are also five or six more players who are talented."
Story first published on: Friday, 12 July 2013 16:39 IST