"I am far from being done", Saina Nehwal tells NDTV after winning her first Super Series title in 20 months. Saina won the Australian Open Super Series on Sunday, beating Spain's Carolina Marin in straight games in the final in Sydney. Excerpts from a conversation. (Saina Nehwal, breaking the Chinese wall Down Under)
Q: A Super Series title after 20 months, are you relieved?
A: Very relieved, it was a tough period for me, there were a lot of expectations from me, and a lot of pressure from different quarters because I haven't won a Super Series in a long time. It happens when a player is out of form. There were certain things that were not in my control, like the knee injury and the toe fracture, it happened at the wrong time, but I was confident that the titles would come and the last two months, I trained very hard for this.
With the way I played in the Uber Cup and the Indonesia Open, it gave me a lot of confidence. I had told two months ago that I could see a title coming sometime soon, and it actually happened. So it's about belief and hard work, and I am very happy that this will help me in the future tournaments too.
Q: You had blisters on your feet during the final with Carolina, but you won quite easily.
A: I didn't want to think about the blisters. My foot was actually bleeding before the final. It happens to athletes and I am happy that I have become stronger physically and mentally to overcome these things.
Q: Your win against Shixian Wang in the semis though was the tough one, it went to 3 games. How much confidence did that win give you?
A: I actually wasn't sure I could beat her. Last time we played, she beat me quite comfortably. When you don't win you're always in doubt. Now I could see myself moving faster than her, I was able to rally more than her, so I think my training made me stronger. That's why I got the confidence to fight for every point like she does. She is a great retriever, and it's not easy to play her at all.
Q: You said during the Uber Cup that you're in better form than London 2012. Is this one of your best phases or is there scope for more?
A: I think I am playing even better. In 2012, I played with a viral and won a bronze, now I am fully fit and my training now is tougher than what I was doing two years ago. Now I am in much better shape.
Q: Do you think you have silenced your critics with this win?
A: I think I started playing for myself, winning for myself, not others. People talk when you are at your best and doing well, and then forget you. So I am not really bothered about them, it's just me who wanted to achieve and that's what I wanted to do. I am proud of my comeback, I wanted to fight. I wanted to get my fighting spirit back. Once that's back you can think about winning and losing. Rest is your destiny,
Q: At any point did you feel like you were over and out?
A: Absolutely not, I am far from giving up. Of course, it was frustrating and I kept thinking what was going wrong. But the schedule was so tight, I didn't even have the time to improve. After the Swiss Open, I didn't play the Asian Badminton Championships. In the four-and-half weeks after the Singapore Open, I got back into shape.