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Saina Nehwal's biggest weapon is her physical fitness: Former Indian shuttler
India's most celebrated shuttler, Saina Nehwal added yet another title in her kitty bag over the weekend after clinching the Australian Super Series, defeating Spain's Carolina Marin in straight sets 21-18 and 21-11. The Indian star has been carrying the Indian flag on her shoulders for more than five years and how well has she done it placing India on the global map as a powerhouse in badminton. Even top shuttlers from across the globe fear Sania.
History suggests, she has defeated all top ranked players in the circuit. Everyone is left in awe when she comes up with some magical performances on the court, but what makes the Hyderabadi girl an outstanding one?

Badminton is an individual sport, hence the player needs to do it all him/herself to turn victorious with very little support. There have been top Indian players, who might have had an outstanding talent and technique and won many juniour events, but dwindled over time. But Sania did not belong in this category. The player matured quickly. She started to play with people in the higher age group. ''When she was around 14 years she played in the under 19 category and also some senior national level,'' said former Indian shuttler, Pradeep Gandhe.

Sania playing with senior pros definitely helped improve her game. She was put to the test and came up strong on several counts. One can give credit to her present achievements to her juniour days. Talent is going to take one to the international stage, but to fight it out against top players, the player needs to have various attributes as well.

''Her main weapon is her physical fitness. She is mentally very strong and she also hates to lose,'' said Pradeep. There have been times in her career, when she went a few tournaments without titles, but she remained unscathed. It was her strong character, which got the better out of her. The game takes a toll on the mental level as well, but if she can maintain the physical and her mental level, she has the ability to play for another three to four years.

Things are gradually changing for Indian badminton as well. Earlier, there were very few players, who earned a name in the international circuit, but presently, there are a number of Indians who are plying their trade in the international arena, hoping to emulate Saina's success. One name, which instantly comes to one's mind is PV Sindhu, who has been earning a good name in the international circuit, in spite of her age, 19 years. She is the next big thing for Indian badminton. Would she be as successful as Sania? It remains to be seen, but she has the talent and the potential to succeed.

With quality players (both men and women) coming up in India, there is a great hope amongst the badminton fraternity that India will reach the level of countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia and China, who dominate world badminton. Pradeep remains hopeful for the future as he said, ''Look at the progress Indian badminton players have been making in the recent years. Even in international grand prix events, we have our Indian players reaching quarters and etc. These are good signs for Indian badminton.''

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Vibhav Kant Upadhyay
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