If anyone had any doubt regarding Saina Nehwal's form and fitness at the age of 29, then the former World No. 1 quelled them all with a memorable performance at the Malaysia Masters on Thursday. The 2012 Olympic bronze medallist summoned all her determination and fighting spirit to knock out the eighth seed and World No. 9 An Se Young 25-23, 21-12.
It was very much reminiscent of the Saina of yore and one that reminded fans that age is just a number for champions. Considering it came after a season of injuries and early losses, it was very much welcome indeed.
An Se Young, all of 17, had been a sensational story in 2019. The Korean showed tremendous fearlessness and maturity to knock down some of the biggest names of the sport on her way to a staggering five titles last year. With wins over the likes of Carolina Marin and Saina Nehwal, she had established herself as one to watch out for.
And that is the reason why, Nehwal's win over Young was a major boost for the Commonwealth Games gold medallist's confidence ahead of her all-important quarter-final clash with the reigning Olympic champion Marin. The last face-off of the two shuttlers, who are locked at 6-6 in head-to-head record, happened at the 2019 Indonesia Masters, where Marin suffered a serious knee injury that kept her out of action for seven months.
The Spanish southpaw has made a stunning comeback since then and has climbed her way back to World No. 10 ranking, riding on three title wins, one of which is the prestigious Super 1000 China Open.
Marin is hungry, motivated to make up for lost time and has set her sights on successfully defending her gold medal in Tokyo. It could be tough to make a dent in her confidence right now. But Nehwal too will be coming to this match after her own big win over Young. Marin might be the favourite but Nehwal certainly has the tools to make it difficult for the Spaniard. How long the World No. 11 can manage to do that will be the key to this match.
Here is all you need to know about Malaysia Masters 2020 Schedule
Tournament: PERODUA Malaysia Masters 2020
Category: Super 500
Prize Money: US $400,000
Venue: Axiata Arena, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Dates: January 7-12, 2020
Match Schedule: Saina Nehwal vs Carolina Marin at approx 2 pm IST on January 10, 2020
Where to watch the Malaysia Masters 2020 matches in India?
The Malaysia Masters matches will be telecast live on Star Sports 1 and Star Sports 1 HD from the quarterfinals.
Malaysia Masters 2020 Live Stream Details
Live stream will be available on Hotstar.com.