Indian ace Saina Nehwal is concentrating on giving her best at the World Super Series Masters Finals tournament, which gets underway in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, from December 2.
Saina feels the tourney is one of the most prestigious events on the world circuit, where a spate of pullouts have resulted in her being seeded second.
Only France’s Pi Hongyan is seeded higher than her.
"I am happy that only Pi is ranked higher than me in this tournament. It gives me the confidence that I can give a good account of myself," the Hyderabadi said.
Even then, Saina is not ready to pronounce herself the favourite.
"In badminton, there is not much that separates the top players in the world. On a given day, anyone can beat anyone. There is so much competition that one cannot take anyone lightly anymore." It must be mentioned that Saina has previously beaten Hongyan a couple of times. But she says that her previous track record against Hongyan will count for nothing.
"I may have beaten her twice. But then that was a year back. She is a much improved player and it will be tough beating her," she said.
When asked to name her main competitors in Johor, Saina said that apart from Hongyan, Lu Lan (China), Julian Schenk (Netherlands) and Yao Jie (Netherlands) are the biggest threats.
"Jie is a Chinese settled in Netherlands. I had lost to her in the opening round of the Hong Kong Super Series three weeks back. I am eagerly looking forward to gaining revenge over her," she said.
Saina believes her run in the tournament would depend on how well she performs in her opening match.
"It is very important to get off to a good start in any tournament.
Once you have won the opener, then your confidence goes up and it only gets better from there." Saina is sweating it out at the Pullela Gopi Chand Academy courts in Hyderabad, training for about six hours every day.
"I am training hard for this tournament. It is a privilege to qualify for this meet and I want to leave no stone unturned," Saina added.
Meanwhile, the mixed- doubles pair of Jwala Gutta and Velliavetil Diju is raring to go. Gutta and Diju created history in becoming the first Indian team to qualify for this elite tournament, and want to give it their best shot.
"We are just raring to have a go at the top combines in the world. We are confident about our chances as we have beaten most of the pairs in fray," said Diju.
But the performance of the pair in the last tournament in Hong Kong was a bit disappointing, as they lost their prequarterfinal to unfancied Anthony Kellogg and Dona Rice of England. However, Diju tried to take positives out of that defeat too.
"It was a bad match that we played. We made a lot of unforced errors and were punished for that. We have learnt our lessons from that match and will not repeat them again," he said.
On her part, Jwala said it had been one of her dreams to represent the country in the World Super Series finals.
"I have been waiting for the day when Diju and I qualify for this event. The great success we had this year has ensured that we made the cut for this meet two weeks before the final cut," she said.
All three players will be leaving for Johor from Hyderabad on Monday night.