Ace India shuttler Saina Nehwal defeated local favourite Lindaweni Fanetri in 21-17, 21-17 in the last-four to reach her maiden final of the Badminton World Championships in Jakarta on Saturday. With her triumph on Saturday, the Olympics bronze medallist became the first Indian ever to make it to the final of the world championships. It turned out to be a tight match as Saina and Lindaweni, who was playing with a strapping on her right knee, engaged in long rallies and gave each other a tough fight at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium.
Saina Nehwal Is The First Indian Woman To Reach The Final Of World Badminton Championships
Lindaweni opened up a 6-2 lead early on in the first game as Saina tried to get a hang of the drift in the stadium. The Indonesian had to take some tips from the team doctor after feeling some pain in her knee at 7-6.
The Indonesian looked restricted in her movement as Saina clawed back at 9-9 and grabbed the lead next when Lindaweni hit wide. A service fault helped Lindaweni to level score at 10-10 but Saina went into the break with a 11-10 lead after winning a long rally.
After the interval, Saina increased the gap to 15-12 but the Indian committed a few unforced errors to allow Lindaweni draw parity at 15-15. A net fault and a wide shot by the Indonesian gave Saina a 18-16 lead.
Egged on by a vociferous crowd, the home girl kept fighting but a ferocious return took Saina to 19-17 lead. Lindaweni next found the net again as Saina gained three game points and the Indian pocketed it after her rival again hit wide.
Lindaweni struggled with her knee but she never gave up and matched Saina for strokes and went into the lead at 4-3. The Indonesian tried to vary the pace and came up with acute angled shots to trouble Saina.
Every time Saina took a lead, Lindaweni clawed back and turned the tables. The duo moved neck and neck from 6-6 to 10-10 before Saina moved into the break with a slender 11-10 lead.
After the breather, Saina opened up a 14-11 lead. But the Indian again committed a few unforced errors which helped Lindaweni to level par at 14-14. Saina once again surged ahead to 17-14 but Lindaweni showed steels of nerves to narrow it down to 16-17 and 17-18.
Saina eventually gained a three-match point advantage when Lindaweni hit long. Another wide shot from Lindaweni and Saina raised her arms in celebration.
India’s Saina Nehwal Will Face Spains’ Carolina Marin In World Badminton championships In Jakarta On Sunday
It would be India’s fifth medal at the World Championship after P V Sindhu clinched the bronze twice in 2013 and 2014 and Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa notched up a bronze in women’s doubles at the 2011 edition.
Saina will face World No. 1 and defending champion Carolina Marin of Spain in the summit clash – an opponent she last faced in the final of the All England Badminton Championships earlier this year. Marin came through a war of attrition against Korea’s Sung Ji-hyun to claim a pulsating 21-17, 15-21, 21-16 victory in a marathon encounter on Saturday that ebbed and flowed through a series of momentum shifts.
The Spaniard was a surprise champion as ninth seed a year ago but has since risen to the top of the rankings with a game built on confidence, athleticism and a never-say-die attitude.
Fanetri, who has not won any major title, looked uncomfortable throughout the match because of an injury but didn’t let that affect her game, giving her much higher-ranked opponent a tough fight. In the last decade, the only major title that the world No. 29 has won was the Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold, a Grade IV tournament, in 2012. She was the runner-up in the Chinese Taipei Open and Vietnam Open in 2012.
The Indian ace, who has won close to 20 international titles including the Olympics bronze, was always unlucky when it came to the World championship. She was struck down by chicken pox once, stomach bug later – the 24-year-old was always laid low by some off-court problems. Even before the Worlds she was suffering from shoulder niggle but she did not allow that to affect her game. Source PTI/ Times Of India