Nehwal’s shot at top spot
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Saina Nehwal is looking for a cherry to place on top of what was a cake of a season. The icing to 2012, of course, was her bronze at the Olympics over a glorious London summer. But camped at the China Resources Shenzhen Bay Sports Center for the year-ending Super Series Finals, India's World No. 3 is excited about her prospects in the elite Top-8 event of the world where she was drawn alongside German Juliane Schenk, Danish Tine Baum and Thai youngster Ratchanok Intanon in Group B. Both the Chinese — Olympic champ Li Xuerui and Shixian Wang are placed in Group A, even as Nehwal guns for the prestigious and cash-rich title which offers her a chance to take a shot at the No. 1 title, provided other shuttlers' results align fortuitously.
Nehwal is currently on 82,111 points, while Xuerui, ranked 2, has 89676. World No 1 Yihan Wang (90,032 pts) is out with an injury. The winner at Shenzhen picks 11000 points, while the runner-up stands to gain 9350. Making the semifinals could add 7700 to her tally. The relative math and the opportunity of finishing the year on a ranking high apart, the SS Finals could cap what Nehwal terms her "best-ever season."
"It was an excellent year because I won so many tournaments and the Olympics podium was obviously great, making it the biggest year of my career," said Nehwal, who has picked titles this year in Switzerland, Indonesia, Thailand and Denmark besides making the finals at Paris.
London, though, holds the pride of place, though she couldn't claim the gold. "An Olympic podium is special because everyone wants to be there, and I actually made it," she said with much wonder before flying out to China, pinching herself to believe it's real. "I went into that competition, telling myself repeatedly that it was just another tournament. But there was lot to celebrate when I won the medal. Not many Indians have been there, so it was special for my country too," she said.
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