London Olympics bronze medallist Saina Nehwal has said that her priority right now is to beat the top players consistently before thinking about qualification for Tokyo 2020 later this year.
Saina, who had won the Indonesia Masters last year before going through a rough patch, dispatched South Korea’s An Se Young 25-23 21-12 after a thrilling 39-minute contest to make the last eight at the Malaysia Masters in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday.
The former world No 1 is currently placed in the top 25 in the race for Tokyo 2020 rankings and will need to be in the top 16 to get the second quota for India with PV Sindhu in the top 10.
Speaking after her win, Saina said she needs to work on her consistency.
“For me, the Olympics is secondary,” Saina is quoted as saying by badzine.net. “The most important [thing] is to beat good players and do well in the tournaments and then we can think about Olympics. I’ve played three good Olympics so the matter is... will I be able to beat those good players tomorrow. I need the confidence to beat at least a few of them, then qualifying would give me a bit of happiness.”
This is Saina’s first win over the South Korean in two meetings, as the 17-year-old rising star got the better of the Indian in the quarterfinals of the French Open last year. She credited her movement and patience for getting the better of one of the most exciting young talent on the circuit.
“An Se Young is in the limelight and she’s been giving a tough fight to all the top players but I think I was good today. I could see that I was moving well. It’s very rare that I move well nowadays but today was one of the rare days,” she said.
Talking about the break she took at the end of 2019, she added, “I think those 3 or 4 weeks really helped me to think through things and start anew. Sometimes you lose your confidence and you don’t want to play after losing so many first rounds.”
The two-time Commonwealth Games champion will next take on Olympic champion Carolina Marin.
Saina had defeated Lianne Tan of Belgium 21-15 21-17 in the opening round on Wednesday.