June 14, 2010 11:37:17 pm
There were no demons in the draw filled with weak Indian pretenders,and even her opponent in the final was Mew Choo Wong,a Malaysian whose challenge seems as fragile as her porcelain-doll presence on court. The true test for Saina Nehwal was in soaking up the pressure of winning a bonafide international crown at home something she hadnt managed in previous attempts.
Shrugging off early nerves and a first game setback to win the Indian Open Grand Prix Gold 20-22 21-14 21-12 in Chennai on Sunday,Nehwal said she was ready to return to Delhi for the Commonwealth Games in October,where nothing less than a gold medal will be acceptable from the currently World No 6 Indian champion.
Its a huge confidence booster before the CWG winning in front of home crowd. In the past,Ive gotten tense and made mistakes like happened at the Asian Badminton Championships in Delhi,when I took on too much pressure. But today even after losing the first set,I didnt lose hope, she said,as elated as the ocassion and the level of win required. It was more a training of the nerves than her strokes.
Being 20-18 up in the opening set,the Hyderabadi botched the next three points to drop the first set,but steadied the rallies thereafter to win in 56 minutes,double the time she had taken to swat aside the same opponent at the ABC semis in April.
Still,while bringing her head-to-head stats level with the Malaysian to 2-2 with this win,Nehwal ensured she had the answers when probed by the Malaysians determined parallel game,keeping the shuttle flat. She was good when under the shuttle,but after the first set I started hitting higher at the net,and got some good down-the-line winners, the 20-year-old said.
Nehwal plays the Singapore Super series as top-seed in the coming week,where she meets Wong again in what will be a tough first round. Junes a good month for me,since I won the Indonesian Open Super series also around the same time. I wish all tournaments were in this month, she said.
Verma wins unopposed
Meanwhile,VK Verma was elected as Badminton Association of India (BAI) president for a fourth successive term after Mohd Azharuddin backed out at the last minute.
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