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Saturday, December 04, 2021

Another Super Sunday for Saina

Saina Nehwal was back to gifting Dr Harvir Singh a Father’s Day present for a second year in succession,winning the Super Series title at Singapore after her triumph in Indonesia last year.

Written by Shivani Naik | Mumbai |
June 21, 2010 12:44:47 am

Saina Nehwal was back to gifting Dr Harvir Singh a Father’s Day present for a second year in succession,winning the Super Series title at Singapore after her triumph in Indonesia last year. She was on the podium on a second straight Sunday after clinching the Indian Open GP Gold last week.

It’s her comebacks though,that have been the defining theme of her performance in this tournament as the ace Indian shuttler starts stringing titles more consistently than ever before.

“I liked the way I came back in my second match against Russian Ella Diehl from 4-16 down,to win 10 straight points and the set 23-21 without making any mistakes. From there I knew I could come back from any point in the match and overcome every sort of lead,” said the 20-year-old Hyderabadi. Ranked No.6 in the world,she is expected to rise into the top-4 on the back of the recent pair of titles. The comeback pattern had run through the course of her first triumph at Singapore — rallying from a set down against world champion Chinese Lu Lan in the semifinals,besides her second-round face-off against the Russian,and even in the summit clash.

In Sunday’s final against 16-year-old Tzu Ying Tai,an aggressive teenage upstart from Chinese Taipei,Nehwal had again found herself down at 6-13. “After conceding the first lead at 8-14,I thought I’ll lose the game. But I just played on,and relied more on my rallies,which have helped me come out of tough spots throughout this week. She’s very quick,and wanted to keep them short. Today,I played without bothering about the scores. Her lead did not get to me,because I had the confidence and rhythm,” Saina explained. She pretty much had her rival in the bottle after 18-18 in the first and throughout the second set.

Earlier,playing from the tougher side of the court — with the wind — the Indian was slow to start,before she hit her stride. Thereafter it was all about toying with the Taiwanese girl — who attempted a few cutesy smashes in desperation — though a stoic Nehwal quietly induced a lot of errors,serving well herself,even as Tzu Ying’s negatives piled up and her game crumbled into heap of inconsistency.

“I didn’t think of her as a dangerous qualifier,who’d beaten many ranked players,but rather as just another player,with a ranking outside of 100. I didn’t need any more pressure,” said Nehwal,who terms this her second best tournament victory after Indonesia a year ago. “I’m happy especially since I could win this after the Indian Open. It shows there’s a lot of improvement in my fitness as I could last two weeks,” she added.

Special tournament

Coach Pullela Gopichand rated this just a little under the Indonesian triumph,though both are prestigious. “It was a special tournament,right from her first match — the way she demolished Malaysian Mew Choo Wong 21-5,21-8,then the comeback against Diehl,then beating the Chinese she’d lost to at Delhi in the Asian championships in the quarters and finally scoring over the reigning World Champion. With that kind of form and playing at that level,she looked good to win the finals,” he said adding that,“Winning one title could be considered a fluke,but now there’s no doubt. And her consistency this year has been amazing. Also,she’s very formidable when she’s up with a good lead. But this one would be very good for her self-belief for the way she’s come back from huge trailing scores.”

Nehwal’s schedule has been very carefully planned — one tournament in each of the first five months,and now these weeks which Gopichand knows will be very tiring for her. “But it’s yielded two titles already. Slowly she’s picked up — first semis,then first final,first win,and now these first back-to-back titles,” he said,happy that his ward was learning from every loss,and looking ominous everytime she played her rivals the second time around.

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