Malaysia Open: Saina in contention for year’s 2nd title

Takes on Wang Xin for Malaysian Open GP Gold title

Alor Setar: Top seed Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal stormed into the final of the Malaysia Open Grand Prix Gold after scoring a convincing straight-game win over seventh seed Korean Sung Ji Hyun here on Saturday. Saina, who had made a shock first round exit at the Indian Open Super Series last week, recorded a comfortable 21-14, 21-13 win over her rival in just 35 minutes.
“I was feeling more confident today as I had beaten Sung in the Swiss Open final two months ago,” said Saina. “I know she has improved a lot recently, I knew in my heart I could beat her. I was a little tentative against Wang Lin yesterday but came out firing today. I think it showed as all my strokes worked to perfection. I’m fired up to make up for my first round loss in New Delhi last week and it doesn’t matter who I face in the final.
“Either way, my goal is to try to win this tournament and move back up the world rankings. I’ve been playing with a taped up ankle and it is something new to me. I need to get used to it and this is a legacy of my ankle injury I suffered while winning the Hong Kong Superseries in December.”
Saina will take on second seed Wang Xin of China in the summit clash on Sunday. She hasn’t beaten Wang in their two previous contests. Wang beat fourth seed Korean Bae Youn Joo 21-6, 21-19 in the other semifinal on Saturday.
Saina played aggressively and put up a dominating show as she scored 11 points through smashes to two of Sung. Saina was never threatened in the entire match, establishing her dominance early and shutting her opponent out of the game. Of all the 69 points, Saina emerged winner on 42 occasions.
The Indian led the first game all through after being tied 3-3. Her Korean opponent closed in at 11-16 but Saina won four straight points to take a 20-11 lead before taking the game easily.
In the second game, Saina played even better as he was ahead from the very beginning. She took a 4-0 lead and then surged to 13-3 before Sung made a fightback.
The Korean closed the gap at 13-16 but Saina stopped her right in her tracks by winning five straight points without reply to take the second game and wrap up the match.
In the men’s singles, local favourite Lee Chong Wei progressed into yet another final with an easy 21-13 21-14 victory over Japanese 11th seed Sho Sasaki. He will take on the seventh seeded Chinese Bao Chunlai in the final. Bao overcame Vietnam’s Nguyen Tien Minh in the other semifinal.
Results: Semifinals: MS: 1-Lee Chong Wei bt 11-Sho Sasaki 21-13 21-14; 7-Bao Chunlai bt 3-Nguyen Tien Minh 21-12 19-21 21-14
WS: 1-Saina Nehwal bt 7-Sung Ji Hyun 21-14 21-13; 2-Wang Xin bt 4-Bae Youn Joo 21-6 21-19

About badmintonmania

Sometimes I wonder if I'm the Indian in Thoreau's Walden who makes cane baskets and is surprised nobody wants them. A. was talking about discipline when she said: "But Dev, if you want to move ahead in life, you'll have to be like that," and she may as well have defined everything else for me. I've played the low percentage game for too long to believe there's anything in it but the romance; the odds keep getting jacked up higher and higher; and you may be a good Idealist but a worse Fool.
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