Australian Open Title for Saina Nehwal
Indian ace Saina Nehwal received a huge boost ahead of the Rio Olympics as she clinched her second Australian Open title after defeating China’s Sun Yu in a thrilling three-game final of the Super Series badminton tournament .
The 26-year-old from Hyderabad eked out a 11-21 21-14 21-19 over the World No. 12 Sun in a fighting summit clash that lasted an hour and 11 minutes.
London Olympics bronze medallist, Saina, who had beaten two world champions — Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon (2013) and China’s Yihan Wang (2011) in the quarterfinals and semifinals , thus clinched her maiden title of the season and pocketed a cheque of $56,250.
It is Saina’s second Australian Open victory, having clinched the title in 2014 as well. It ended a rather long title drought for the celebrated Indian, whose previous title before today was at the India Super Series in New Delhi.
Saina had defeated Sun five times in the last five outings but she faced a tough challenge against the 22-year-old Chinese, who took just 18 minutes to wrap up the opening game at the Sydney Olympic Park.
Saina had become the first Indian woman shuttler to reach the World No.1 on April 2 last year, following her title win at the India Open. She won a silver at the World Championship in August in Jakarta, Indonesia.
She also reached the finals of the China Open Super Series Premier in November but a nagging ankle injury saw her form dip as she missed a series of events before making a comeback at the India Open.
She registered a series of semifinal finishes at the India Open, Malaysia Open, Badminton Asia Championships. She also won a bronze, her second in the Asian Championships. In June, she reached the quarters at the Indonesia Open Superseries Premier.