'One bad shot, and then there's no way back into the match'
Competition at the Commonwealth Games will not be as tough as the World Championship but the ever-on-her-guard Saina Nehwal prefers not to take anything for granted as she feels even one bad shot can derail her gold medal bid at the Delhi Games.
The 20-year-old Hyderabadi was the hot favourite to at least reach the final during the World Championship in August but some "silly mistakes" stopped her run in Paris at the quarter-final stage.
"The competition is not as tough as the World Championship but all these girls would be coming prepared and you never know what happens. At times, when you are tense, you play a bad shot and there is no coming back," Saina said.
Since bursting into the scene at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games, Saina has had a dream run and the ace Indian shuttler says winning a gold at the Commonwealth Games will add to her confidence ahead of next month's Asian Games.
Saina considers the 2006 Melbourne Games a launching pad and said it was the event which catapulted her to the big league.
"Four years ago, I was very new and was just trying to play and I never expected that I will get a chance to play in the Commonwealth Games. Nobody expected that Aparna will get injured and I will be asked to play," Saina said.
Image: Saina Nehwal
'I hope to reproduce my top form and performance'
"But it was a wonderful experience as it gave me a lot of confidence and helped me win big tournaments after that. In a way, it proved to be a launch pad for me.
"I beat many top players of that time. Tracy Hallam was World No 7 at that time and Li Li of Singapore. I was free of any tension; there was no expectation, no pressure. I needed experience and it was a good experience and confidence booster," she said.
Saina had helped India win the mixed team bronze in Melbourne four years ago. She then went on to become the first Indian woman to win a Grand Prix gold event by clinching the Philippines Open.
Her phenomenal rise in world badminton continued as she won the Chinese Taipei title before winning three back-to-back titles this season.
"It has been a dream year for me and I know now there would be a lot of pressure and people will expect me to win and I hopefully will do well here.
"I have trained hard and put my soul into preparing myself. That's what I can do. I hope I can reproduce the same form and performance here in front of my home crowd," she said.
Image: Saina Nehwal