Less than a week after chief national coach P. Gopi Chand expressed hopes of India reaching the quarterfinals of both the Thomas Cup and the Uber Cup, Saina Nehwal has raised expectations by eying the semifinal spot for the ladies team.
“We have a good chance of reaching the semifinals,” Saina said at the official launch of the event here on Wednesday.
“We did not have a strong team earlier. We’ve never had more than one good player in singles. But right now, the whole team looks very, very strong.”
Notwithstanding her ordinary form in the past year, Saina maintained winning the first singles could “make a lot of difference.”
She said: “If I perform well, it will boost the confidence of the team. The pressure will be much less on the second player (P.V. Sindhu). I hope Jwala and Ashwini also win.”
The premier team championship begins here on May 18.
Each tie comprises three singles and two doubles matches.
India has Thailand, Hong Kong and Canada for company in the league phase.
After the round-robin matches, two teams from each of the four groups qualify for the quarterfinals.
“Against Hong Kong and Canada, we are better. But against Thailand, we have to be very careful,” said Saina.
Thailand has World champion Ratchanok Intanon, Porntip Buranaprasertsuk and Nichaon Jindapon, ranked fourth, ninth and 15th in the world, in that order.