Saina Nehwal becomes first Indian to reach the final of World Championships
Saina Nehwal became the first Indian to reach the finals of the World Badminton Championships after a dominating 21-17, 21-17 win over Lindaweni Fanetri. The World No. 2 took 55 minutes to beat the home favourite in the semi-finals.
Lindaweni Fanetri had beaten higher ranked opponents – Minatsu Mitani (Ranked 13 in the world) Ratchanok Intanon (5) and Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying (4) – in the earlier rounds before succumbing to Saina. Her opponent, on the other hand, had dropped only 1 game in the tournament, against arch-rival Wang Yihan in the quarter-final.
Despite Saina winning the first point of the match, the World No. 29 hit back straight away, establishing a 6-2 lead, to the delight of the crowd. The former World No. 1, however, did not panic and took the lead right before the break in the first set (10-9). At the halfway break, Saina led 11-10.
After advice from her coach Vimal Kumar, Saina concentrated more on keeping the points longer and making her opponent do all the running. This tactic helped the Indian take a 3-point lead, 14-11 in the first game.
The Indonesian crawled her way back to tie the game at 16 each after a couple of unforced errors by Saina. However, Fanetri was unable to maintain her momentum as Saina sealed the game with 3 straight points, 21-17.
Saina becomes first Indian to reach the World Championship final
The second game started as an even affair with both the players exchanging points before Fanetri won 2 straight points with clever net play to lead 5-3. However, Saina made the most of Fanetri’s mistakes by winning 3 straight points to take a 1-point lead.
With the local shuttler leading 9-8, Saina seized the initiative by going into the break 11-10 and not letting her opponent take the lead till the end of the match. Despite Fanetri winning the first point after the restart, the Indian, unfazed by the vociferous crowd backing the World No. 29, won 3 unanswered points to lead 14-11, but the Indonesian levelled the score immediately.
Another 3-point run for Saina established a healthy lead for the Indian. Leading 18-17, Saina conjured up one more 3-point stretch, her sixth of the match, to seal the tie and condemn Fanetri to a semi-final defeat.
With this win, Saina has reached the final, where she will meet World No. 1 Carolina Marin. The Spaniard had earlier gotten the better of South Korean Sung Ji Hyun 21-17, 15-21, 21-16 to book her place in the title clash. The final will be played tomorrow, 16th August.