Indian shuttle queen Saina Nehwal put up a dominating performance to advance to the final of the 2017 Malaysia Masters at Sibu, Sarawak, Malaysia on Saturday. The top seed needed just 32 minutes to send the fifth-seeded Yip Pui Yin home, with a commanding 21-13, 21-10 victory.
The 26-year-old will meet the 18-year-old rising Thai shuttler Pornpawee Chochuwong in the title showdown. The teenager, who won the silver medal at the World Junior Championships last year, upset the second seed Cheung Ngan Yi 21-19, 20-22, 21-18 in the day’s other semi-final.
Fourth consecutive straight-game win for Nehwal
Nehwal had a 6-2 head-to-head record over the 30th-ranked Hong Kong player Yip Pui Yin coming into the match. Yet, it was the lower-ranked player who looked to have the upper hand over the World No. 10 in the early stages of the match.
After a blazing start, Saina went off the boil a bit and allowed Yin to build an 8-5 lead. Yin had an 11-9 advantage at half-time but on resumption, it was Saina who wrested back control and never relinquished it for the rest of the match.
With a huge support group constantly chanting her name, the Indian shuttle queen rediscovered her touch and inched ahead 13-12. From there, she won eight of the next nine points to bag the opener, 21-13.
That pretty much sealed the deal for Nehwal as her opponent never recovered from the blow. Looking very listless right from the start of the second game, she failed to put up even a half decent fight.
It was after going down 0-6 that Yip finally got on the board. A few errors crept into Nehwal's game and that helped Yin reduce the deficit to 5-8. That was the closest she ever got to Saina, who simply accelerated from there to soar to 11-5 and then extended the lead to 16-9 before pocketing the win.
With this straight-game victory, the Indian thus maintained her record of not conceding a game throughout the tournament.
On Sunday, Nehwal will look to become the second Indian in a row to win the Malaysia Masters after PV Sindhu triumphed there last year.Published 21 Jan 2017, 22:40 IST