With most of the attention focused on the P.V. Sindhu (Awadhe Warriors) vs Tine Baun (Mumbai Masters) match in the Indian Badminton League semi-finals, both players expected a tight tie on Thursday while being determined to carry their respective teams into the title round.
Baun, the former three-time All-England champion who came out of retirement, thinks the IBL experience has been rather different -- but on the eve of the knock-out round, the 34-year old German said she would do her best to help the team.
"It's been pretty tough coming back from my retirement. I think I have done better than I expected. I have been close to winning some of my matches. Most of the other players have prepared well for the Worlds which was just before this event and I haven't been playing at all.
"The IBL has taught me that I cannot do some of the things like I used to, but I am determined to fight all the way for the team. I hope to be here next year too," said Baun in a chat with the media here Wednesday.
On her IBL experience, Baun felt that there was scope for improvement in the IBL, but overall, she was quite pleased with her sojourn in India.
"I think it's been a good experience, but I have also noticed that there are many holes (in the rules) with teams flying in new players.
"We always thought teams had to stick to the same personnel from the beginning. There are some aspects in which the league can do better next year.
"Teams have to stick to the same players throughout. They should not find excuses to buy new players if some don't deliver results. The rules definitely have to be a lot more clearer next year," Baun opined.
Sindhu, the 18-year old who created a sensation by reaching the semi-finals at the World Championship and scored some notable wins in the ongoing IBL, especially against Baun when the teams met last week, expected a good tie.
"It will be a good match tomorrow. I want to give my best because Tine (Baun) is a very good player. Our team is in good form, we should do well. It has been a good comeback to get into the semifinals (after losing their opening two matches)," said Sindhu.
Sindhu hoped that the crowd would be backing her when she takes on Baun like they did last week but she declined to look beyond the semi-final when asked about a possible re-match with Saina Nehwal (Hyderabad Hotshots) in Saturday's final at Mumbai.
"Yes, the crowds have been very good. I hope they turn up tomorrow as well. I know they will. We don't follow who is going to enter the finals, and who we are going to play. All the teams are the same for us. But first, we need to win semis," she said.