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Saina needs a travelling physio immediately : Gopichand

Saina Nehwal has the potential to be the numero uno women shuttler but the prodigal talent urgently needs a travelling physio to retain her fitness

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NEW DELHI: Saina Nehwal has the potential to be the numero uno women shuttler but the prodigal talent urgently needs a travelling physio to retain her fitness, feels national coach Pullela Gopichand.
    
Beijing Olympics quarter-finalist, Saina, sneaked into the elite zone of top 10 players on Thursday and immediately set herself a new target of breaking into the top five next year.
    
"Saina has 8-10 years of international badminton ahead. She has the potential to be on the top provided she remains injury-free and for that she urgently needs a travelling physiotherapist who can chart out a specific fitness plan for her," Gopichand, the former All England Champion, said from Cochin.
    
"Fitness has been her strong point till date but women badminton is very tiresome. There are long matches and you need the stamina to do well consistently," he added.
    
Elated to see Saina grow as a player from strength to strength, Gopichand said the 18-year-old has always been a quick learner.
    
"Saina has done tremendously well. She is a quick learner and you have to be really good to be in top 10. I had the confidence in her since the beginning."
    
Reckoning that winning tournaments will be more important than focusing on ranking, Gopichand said Saina would look for a consistent podium finish in the upcoming tournaments.
    
"Rankings are indicative of how you play in that period. It is good to have high rankings but podium finish is more important. We will try to win or reach in semis or finals in the coming tournaments," he said.
    
He said that apart from Asian and World championship, Saina will play 12 Super Series events next year and he is quite optimistic about the champion shuttler's chances.
    
Asked about how he is preparing Saina for the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games, Gopichand said it is still two years away and the duo will churn out tournament-wise strategy.
    
"Of course, we want to do well in Commonwealth Games but there are so many tournaments to be played in between. Our immediate plan is to do well in Korean and Malaysian Super Series to be held in January." he said.
    
With her popularity graph soaring each day, Saina is now giving tough competition to tennis sensation Sania Mirza but Gopichand said it would be unfair to compare the two stars.
    
"Both have many similarities. They hail from the same city (Hyderabad) and have taken Indian sports high in international circuit. Instead of comparing them, we should enjoy their success."
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