Nehwal’s shot at top spot

Podium high

It's that podium high she's searching for again, having tasted it at the CWG and then the Olympics. The SS Finals — a start to stop high-intensity affair — offers her an opportunity, having done well in this tournament earlier. Nehwal made the semis in her very first year as a Top 10 player in 2008, and repeated that performance in 2009.

She missed the season-ender owing to an ankle injury the year after, but made her best pitch for the title last December when she reached the finals and played one of her best matches against Chinese No 1 Yihan Wang in a three-setter loss. "I've done well in this meet. It's a tough tournament and pretty tiring as there are no easy games," she said. "I like playing tough matches, they get you to the top faster," she added.

Reluctant to set any ranking-goals for the next year, she craves an injury-free future of untroubled fitness. She even turned philosophical on the issues of injuries — empathising with her arch rival Yihan Wang. "It could happen to me as well, it's unfortunate." An SS Finals triumph this year though would give her the first big title of her career, a podium top-step she greatly craves.

Women's Singles Draws: Group A: Li Xuerui, Wang Shixian, Sung Ji Hyun, Eriko Hirose. Group B: Juliane Schenk, Saina Nehwal, Tine Baun, Ratchanok Intanon.

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