She single-handedly changed the face of badminton in India. But a lean patch, that's lasted close to two years now, is all it's taken for the critics pull the knives out. Saina's peak maybe over, but she's certainly not done. The 24-year old, who is the Indian team's captain in the Uber Cup, that will be played in New Delhi between May 18-25, is hoping a comeback will happen soon. (Click here for latest on Badminton)
Saina has struggled since winning a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics, but the start of 2014 hasn't been too bad for the Hyderabadi. She won the India Open Grand Prix Gold, and made it to the quarter-final of the All England Championships. (Also read: PV Sindhu all set to fight for wins with teammate Saina)
"Last year was unfortunate. Some things happened that were not in my control. I had a toe fracture, and a sinus problem too. But I'm feeling fit now, I'm feeling good", Saina told NDTV.
"And then at times you are fit, but somehow that confidence that comes from winning regularly is missing. You never know when you're back. I'm waiting for that small change in my game. I can see it happen soon. I believe in myself, I feel in God, and I'm working hard. That's what I can do from my side", said Saina.
At the Uber Cup, India are in a tricky group that includes Canada, Hong Kong and Thailand. Saina, who will be playing India's first singles of the tie, will take on current world champion Ratchanok Intanon, when they play Thailand.
But the thrill of a team event is different. "We play these events only once a year, or twice. So I maybe done with my match, but I know my team is not done. I will cheer for Sindhu, and Jwala-Ashwini when they're playing", said Saina.
National coach Pullela Gopichand is confident of the girls making it to the quarter-finals at least.
"See, if you told me even three years back that the Thomas and Uber Cup was happening in India, I would've laughed it off. But this is just because all the players have done so well, that India is in the world badminton map today. And with the support of the home crowd, you never know how it goes. But it's best to take one match at a time", Gopichand told NDTV.
Few know Saina and her game better than Gopichand, and the Padma Bhushan recepient is confident his ward will be back to winning ways.
"She's 24, and has many years of badminton left in her. Of course she's had a bad patch, but you can't write her off. She's been working on her fitness. One good result will turn the graph around for her", the experienced coach said.