What does it take you to reach the final for the seventh time at the same venue? It has been almost 10 years when Saina Nehwal won her first Superseries title at Istora Senayan, Jakarta, Indonesia. And now, can someone ask her how she manages to reach another final in Jakarta?
She is a legend, credited for taking India to the next level in the badminton world and setting benchmarks for the younger generations to take Indian flag higher than today. She is stretching her own limits despite her illustrious career of more than a decade. She achieved this feat after beating 2014 Youth Olympic champion He Bingjiao of China 18-21, 21-12, 21-18 in a match lasting for just two minutes short of an hour mark at the glorious venue in Jakarta.
Here is a list of tournaments where Saina reached the final at Istora Senayan stadium in Jakarta.
1) Indonesia Open 2009: This tournament has always been special for Saina as the former World no. 1 won her first Superseries title here in June 2009. She is the first Indian player to win a BWF Superseries title after beating Lin Wang of China 12-21, 21-18, 21-9.
2) Indonesia Open 2010: She successfully defended her title in 2010 after beating Sayaka Sato of Japan 21-19, 13-21, 21-11. It was her third consecutive title after winning the Indian Open Grand Prix Gold and Singapore Open Superseries. With this achievement, she rose to world no. 2 in the BWF world rankings behind Wang Yihan.
3) Indonesia Open 2011: She reached the final for the third consecutive year at the Indonesia Open but lost to Wang Yihan of China. It was a huge achievement for any player to reach the final for a consecutive third year at the same tournament.
4) Indonesia Open 2012: She reached the final for the record fourth successive time just before the 2012 London Olympics. In the final, she beat the All England Champion Li Xuerui of China 13-21, 22-20, 21-19 and took the title for the third time in four years. Before that loss to Nehwal, Li Xuerui was on fire winning a record consecutive 30 matches, including the All England and Asian Championship Title.
5) BWF World Championship 2015: It was a memorable tournament for Saina for she won her first World Championship medal in Jakarta. She won the silver medal and it was the first time in history any Indian player reached the final of the World Championship.
6) Indonesia Masters 2018: Again she started the year on a high end by reaching the final of the Indonesia Masters in 2018 before losing to Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei.
7) Indonesia Masters 2019: She won the title at the Indonesia masters 2019 after Marin retired due to injury when she was leading 10-4 in the final. This was the first world tour title for Saina after the new format was introduced in 2018.
Apart from these seven finals, she won her first Asian Games medal at this very stadium at the 2018 Games. She won the bronze medal after losing to Tai Tzu Ying in the semifinals. She was first Indian player to win an Asian Games medal for India because technically she lost her semifinal match first before Sindhu's match. Sindhu won the silver medal at the same tournament.
She has won an individual medal at all the prestigious tournaments in badminton namely, the Olympic Games, World Championship, Asian Games, Asian Championship, Commonwealth Games and All England Championship. She is the first Indian female player to become the world no. 1 in badminton.
Despite all these major achievements and an illustrious career, she is just not stopping yet, but digging deep and taking high Indian hopes on her shoulders, as we can see from her results.
Let's see how many more times badminton fans witness Saina Nehwal standing on the top of the podium at the Istora Senayan stadium -- a stadium which has a great sporting history and has produced great champions like Saina Nehwal, in a country where badminton is like another religion, similar to what cricket is in India.