It is easier to face the World No.1 than walking on the ramp or for that matter even doing any of these shoots for endorsements, says ace shuttler and World No. 3 Saina Nehwal. “However, I am enjoying the change — both in life and on the court of late,” she remarked.

Speaking at the promotional campaign for Herbalife, the 20-year-old champion, however, says she is really happy with the way things have been going in recent weeks.

Questioned on how she felt in the wake of Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni signing a Rs. 200-crore deal recently with a sports management firm, Saina was remarkably cool to remind that he is a cricketer and she respects him for all his achievements. “I really feel happy for him. And, please don’t compare me with him. You all know cricket’s popularity in India,” she pointed out.

“Yes, there are quite a few sponsors who approached me but I reserve the right to choose the product as it essentially should suit my personality and they should be used by me,” Saina said to a query.

Questioned whether like her mentor and coach Pullela Gopi Chand she also has reservations in endorsing soft drinks, a smiling Saina diplomatically remarked: “I respect Gopi Sir’s decision. He then felt that if he endorsed them many young kids would be affected by drinking them.” “But, I take it differently. I am not averse to the idea of endorsing them. I only feel that when I do these things, I presume it is me who is drinking them and not that everyone starts taking them after seeing me,” she said with a broad smile.

Saina insisted that she is fast getting used to handling these commercial aspects and also reminded that her father Dr. Harvir Singh is taking care of the nitty-gritty in this regard. “And, I not am so naïve to let my focus drift away from the game,” she asserted.

“Do remember that there were film offers to me. But, I love only thing right now — playing on the court. All are secondary,” she insisted. “I am happy to promote myself and the game,” she quipped.

Referring to her World No. 2 ranking, Saina reiterated that she had reached this far after a long struggle and that it is very difficult to stay in the top three. “I have to really keep improving my fitness level and my game simultaneously or else there are many girls ready to catch up with me,” she said.

Keywords: Saina Nehwal

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