Wins Indonesian Open Super Series beating Chinese in final
Dev S Sukumar.DNA
Jakarta: Saina Nehwal scaled an unconquered summit by becoming the first Indian to win a Super Series title on Sunday. The world no.6 won the Indonesian Open title, beating China’s no.3 seed Wang Lin 12-21 21-18 21-9. The win marks the finest moment for Indian badminton since Pullela Gopichand’s All England victory in 2001.
The Super Series circuit consists of 12 elite tournaments (including the All England) across the world; a Super Series title is second only to an Olympics or World Championships gold in terms of prestige.
Saina’s title is a defining moment in many ways. She beat two top Chinese — Lu Lan and Wang Lin — in the semifinal and final, breaking her jinx against them. Barring a win over world champion Zhu Lin last year, she has always faltered against them at top tournaments. The win also pits her as the one big threat to Chinese monopoly — a status enjoyed by Prakash Padukone throughout his career, and briefly by her coach Pullela Gopichand.
The script in the final turned out differently from past matches. Unusually for her, Saina fell into deficit, losing the first game in quick time. Surprisingly, she had no smash winners, compared to seven by her opponent.
The second game was tight all the way until 17-all. Saina shot up to 20-17; Wang saved one game point, but the Indian closed out at the next opportunity.
Saina had found her confidence and rhythm, and wiped out the Chinese’s challenge in the third, allowing her just nine points. From 7-all the Indian was untouchable as she powered her way to the title.
“In past matches against the Chinese, she has always been short of confidence,” said Harvir Singh, her father. “That’s why she used to lose the third game. Today the third game showed that she has got over that barrier. She wanted to return to India, but I told her to play the Malaysian Open that’s coming up.”
Her childhood coach Mohd Arif, who gave her her first lessons when she was seven, hailed the win as a “great” result. “I’ve always believed the girl had it in her. I’m happy she overcame her shortcomings at the highest level. Players like her and Gopi give some indications of their potential even as children — it shows in their attitude. This win will improve her morale and confidence.”
Route to the title:
Final: Saina bt 3-Wang Lin (China) 12-21 21-18 21-9
Semifinal: Saina bt 7-Lu Lan (China) 25-23 21-19
3rd Round: Saina bt Hwang Hye Youn (Kor) 21-7 13-21 21-15
2nd Round: Saina bt Juliane Schenk (Ger) 18-21 21-7 21-19
1st Round: Saina bt Petya Nedelcheva (Bul) 21-18 21-12
Top Three Wins:
2009: Indonesian Open Super Series
2008: World Junior Championships
2006: Philippines Open