Carolina Marin, the world’s most dominating woman badminton player, says it’s difficult to say who between her top Indian rivals, Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu, is tougher to play.
In the last couple of years, the Spanish Olympic champion has played some memorable matches against them. She dominated both till Sindhu turned it around, avenging her defeat in the Rio Olympics final in their last encounter, in the quarterfinals of the season-ending Super Series Finals in Dubai.
Carolina will face PV Sindhu in a mouth-watering inaugural clash of the Premier Badminton League’s second edition at the Gachibowli Stadium here on Sunday.
“It’s really difficult to choose between Saina and Sindhu as they are both very competitive and tough opponents. To beat them, I always have to give my best,” she said.
“It was very different when I used to play against Saina in the beginning as I wasn’t in a very good level to play against the top players. But after I changed my training and a number of things back in Spain, I grew mentally, physically, tactically and technically. I told myself I could beat anyone.”
The year might have just started, but Marin already has her priorities set. The 23-year-old has had tremendous success in her career, but the hunger of winning everything is what drives her. Dropping to world No 2 late in 2016 will provide extra motivation.
“My goal for the next season is to win the All England, world championship and the European Championship,” she told HT. “I know it’s not going to be easy, but I’ll give it my best shot. I would also like to win a few more Super Series titles, but my first aim is to win these three tournaments and then plan accordingly.”
Marin, who scored a comeback win over Sindhu in the Rio final, said the thirst of an Olympic gold was the driving force behind her journey in Brazil. “I cannot tell you my preparation for the Olympics because that’s a secret. And a secret is a secret. My goal was to win the gold medal and that was my only motivation.”
The Spaniard won five Super Series titles and the world crown in 2015, but didn’t have a spectacular start to 2016, having only won the European Championships going into Rio. “The problem is you cannot win every time… It’s not possible to put in a good performance every time because we’re all human at the end of the day. I head to practice every day thinking how I can improve my game. That is the best way I keep myself motivated.”
Marin, who became the first Spaniard to win gold in badminton, wants to popularize the game in her country. “A number of people are now interested to take up badminton and that’s something I really appreciate. I feel like I’ve opened a way to show the people there are other sports in Spain than just football. I haven’t changed my character or anything but everyone in Spain now recognises me.”
Asked if she had quality sparring partners in Spain, Carolina said: “No, the situation hasn’t changed. I always stay in Madrid to train but when I go to Taiwan and Indonesia for a few tournaments, sometimes, I might just go one week before the start of the tournament (to train more).”