Saina Nehwal’s romance with winning

first_imgRomance has a new meaning for Saina Nehwal these days. And it has got to do not just with her stock once again rising as a badminton player but also how her relationship with Parupalli Kashyap is helping on court.In what can be termed as Saina’s resurgence, the 28-year-old has crafted huge wins enroute to the Denmark Open final. On Sunday, she faces the indefatigable Tai Tzu-ying. Maybe, there can be change in the script as one has seen the Saina of the old – jumping, bouncing and full of verve on court.This has not been a fantastic year for Saina but last week can be termed as one of resurgence, or rediscovering her touch. Rewind to the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast this April, when Saina defeated PV Sindhu for the gold medal, it was a big deal.There are any number of riveting rivalries in global sport but when two Indians happen to be going hammer and tong at each other in practice sessions and also in big tournaments, it makes for great viewing.From the fans’ point of view, to watch a match between the two Deccan queens may be tough but they bring out the best.At the Asian Games in Jakarta, Saina was not in peak form and her bronze medal was not huge compared to Sindhu’s silver medal. Having been on the tour for long, Saina has shown the hunger is intact as she found the will and skill to beat twoadvertisementJapanese players in a row at the Denmark Open.It’s not as if she has made too many changes in her game or has come back fresh after a good break. Almost everything is the same, but to thump World No.2 Akane Yamaguchi in straight games and outslug Nozomi Okuhara 17-21, 2-16, 21-12 in the quarter-final was significant.On Saturday, Saina faced little difficulty in defeating Indonesian junior world champion and World No. 19 Gregoria Tunjung in straight games. There have been many Indonesian tough nuts before in badminton thoughGregoria is still work in progress.Back to how Saina has handled her up-and-down results this year needs to be seen in the right perspective. When you happen to be an icon of her stature, the demand is she wins non-stop. Since the time Sindhu burst onto the big stage at the Rio Olympics with her silver medal in 2016, comparisons between the two have become ceaseless.Just to jog the readers’ memory, in 2014 when Saina walked out of the SAI academy headed by P. Gopichand in Gachibowli and started training with Vimal Kumar in Bengaluru, it was seen as a bizarre decision. She faced flak for it as people said she did not want to be sharing space with Sindhu.Saina returned to Gopi and has trained hard again. Very recently, Saina talked about her romance with Kashyap and how Indian sport’s big wedding would take place in Hyderabad in December. Their relationship was kept under wraps for years but since the time the duo have made it public, there has been no secrecy.Kashyap has been plagued by injuries and his return to big-time badminton has not been easy. With his ranking dropping, he could not make the cut for the Denmark Open. However, he was training with the Indian team in Odense, Denmark, and also giving attention to Saina.Gopi is still very much Saina’s coach but the addition of Kashyap seems to have given a new dimension. Kashyap has made it clear he wants to see how his own comeback shape up but his willingness to help Saina with anything she needs is a sign of how this couple could be seen in public more often in a different context.One thing good about the modern day Indian professional lady athlete is that their career does not end after marriage. We have seen Anju Bobby George use her husband as coach in the past.Saina and Kashyap seem to have planned for the future. Kashyap has recently said that whatever he has learnt from badminton is thanks to Gopichand and he is looking at coaching as a next assignment. Glimpses of it have come from Denmark and certainly Saina seems more relaxed these days.One thing is to talk about Saina’s court craft, movement, strokes and speed. Maybe, the hidden efforts are those of Kashyap who has helped Saina rediscover herself so beautifully on the court. Whichever way one looks at it, the return of Saina is big for Indian badminton. And if she beats Tai in the final, it will be Saina’s second wind.advertisementlast_img

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