New Delhi: The World No. 1 ranking is on her mind but reigning World and All England Champion Carolina Marin today said she will have to fight her way through some tough matches before she reaches the summit clash of the India Super Series badminton tournament here.
“Every tournament is important for me. This tournament is important because I know if I win here I am going to be No. 1 so that is one of my goal. I am taking one match at a time,” World No. 4 Carolina told reporters here.
“I want to reach the final but I have some tough matches before that. Though Chinese players are not playing, it is still tough, every tournament is tough. It’s not going to be easy but maybe it is an opportunity to reach the final and win the tournament.”
Coming from a country with no fan following in badminton, the 21-year-old from Huelva put Spain on world badminton map after she clinched a historic World Championship gold last year and followed it up with the All England crown, beating India’s Saina Nehwal in the final.
Come Sunday and Carolina will have a chance to add another feather to her cap as she could be the first non-Chinese to top the women’s singles rankings in more than four years, the last being Denmark’s Tine Baun, who was no.1 in December 2010.
However for that to happen, Carolina will have to make the finals and hope that Saina falls in the quarter-finals.
“My team and me we are doing good work together. We work on our game. We change tactics, know my opponents. My coaches watch matches and tell me the tactics. So when I am practicing, I have goals and I have been able to achieve some of then. That makes me happy and I keep fighting for my next goal,” she said.
Left-handed Carolina has high respect for Saina, whom she considers a difficult opponent.
“Saina has very good quality in her strokes. When I have to play her it is difficult,” she said.
Talking about their recent All England final clash, Carolina said: “It was a very tough match. At the beginning of the match I was very nervous because I thought I have the opportunity to beat Saina. Then the first set I played very bad. In the second, when she was leading 11-8, I spoke to my coach and he gave me some advice. From there on, I was able to play much better,” she said.
Asked about her career-goals, she said: “When I started to play badminton one of my goals was to win gold at the world championship, Olympics Games and be No. 1. One of the goals this year was to be top 5 in world rankings.
“So this year the target will be to get another world championships gold medal and then I will look towards Olympics.”
Always an entertaining character on court, Carolina said she expresses herself on the court to boost herself and put mental pressure on her opponents.
“Sometimes I use that to give me power and confidence on court. When my opponent is leading I want to show her that I am on court and still fighting,” she said.
For someone who single-handedly changed the profile of the sport in her country, it has not been an easy journey for Carolina.
“Badminton is not so popular in Spain. We don’t have too many international players. So it has been difficult because I don’t have many players like in China, Indonesia or in India. After I won world championship medal, many parents want their children to play badminton and know about the sport,” she added.