Ace India shuttler Saina Nehwal is like a breath of fresh air in a sport dominated by the Chinese and with national coach Pullela Gopichand around she is in safe hands, feels ace Indonesian shuttler Taufik Hidayat.
Taufik feels with Saina and Chetan Anand leading the charge, Indian shuttlers have a great future.
"With Saina and Chetan playing well, India can be a force to reckon with in badminton in the future.
"Saina is like a breath of fresh air in women's singles which has been dominated by the Chinese and coach Gopichand has been a great guide to her. I feel with Gopichand around, Saina will get the best tips and guidance which will help her perform and prolong her life in the court," Taufik said.
Taufik, who considers his 2004 Summer Olympics gold medal as his best, said currently the Chinese are dominating the game globally as they have the best regeneration process.
"The Chinese are way ahead in badminton at the moment. Their domination and team strength is great as they have good bench strength. They keep producing players one after another, so they have the best second and third line players," he said.
The champion Indonesian shuttler had a very good season and he feels turning professional early in the year has helped his performance.
"Going professional early this year has helped me focus more and given me the freedom, which was missing when I was with the national team. Now I can choose which tournament to play and the freedom has been reflected in my performance," Taufik said.
The six-time Indonesian Super Series champion won the Indian Open, US Open and Macau Open this year.
Asked about his rivalry with three-time world champion Lin Dan of China, Taufik said, "Currently he is the best. His all round capability, speed, stamina are unparalleled."
Taufik, who was in Lucknow to play an exhibition match for Yonex at the Syed Modi International Grand Prix tournament, said unlike this year he would like to take part in the tournament next time around.
"The facilities and the court are really good out here and I would like to come here next year as a player and participate. Let's see how things pan out," he said.
Asked about his favourite player, the 2005 World Champion said his first coach Lie Sumirat remains his icon.
"My coach Sumirat remains my favourite. He used to teach me when I was young. He belonged to the 1970s era," said Taufik, who won the Asian Games twice.