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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Ice-cream is a no-no for this champion

The Super Series is a big event; to win it you should be focussed for all six days. Your opponents don't have any other work either, apart from trying to win. They don't give up; they fight as hard as you. When you're a professional player you have to be disciplined.

You have to be careful about what you eat, for instance. I believe you should eat whatever you want, but not junk, because you know it's not good. I know I put on weight if I eat ice-cream. I eat ice-cream when I win a tournament. I ate it after winning the Indonesian Open, after more than four months of hard training. You cannot eat anything related to chocolate because sugar can make you slow. Sweets are generally banned for me.

I used to eat a lot when I was a kid. I used to be a vegetarian, but when I shifted to the (Gopichand) academy; (coach) Gopi told me I should try non-vegetarian food. He said if I had to win at the highest level, I had to be disciplined. I understood, so I cut down on junk food. It has to come from inside you -- if you want to win, you have to sacrifice some things. And I sacrificed to be here.

I don't need a psychologist because from I've been mentally very strong from childhood. Meditation, however, is very important. Gopi gave me a CD called 'Yoga Nidra' which I do for 45 minutes before a match and the night before. That helps me stay calm during the match. I have three-four tracks in my mobile, and I listen to them. That makes me calm; I don't hurry things up during the match. I don't just hit smashes and want to finish it off; I want to continue the rally.

That makes me more focussed. There are a few more things that I follow. I take long breaths when I'm on court, so I relax. During the Indonesian Open, I couldn't sleep during the tournament. I used to listen to these tracks till 1 or 2am, and would sleep around 2am. After winning the final, I was up the whole night holding the medal.

I think of only winning. See... when I play on court, it's more of--when will I win? It's not like, am I playing that right or wrong, or something like that. I'm not bothered about my strokes, or my opponent. I'm bothered about my winning or losing. So when I come home, I keep wondering: When will I win the tournament that she (a particular opponent) won? When will I be No.1? These are the thoughts that are always with me.

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