Indian badminton star Saina Nehwal poses after winning the final match of Yonex Sunrise India Open 2015 in New Delhi, Mar. 29. (Shahbaz Khan | PTI)
Local favorites Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth today gave double delight to the nation by clinching their maiden women and men’s singles titles at the India Open Super Series badminton tournament in New Delhi, Mar. 29. A PTI report by Amit Kumar Das.
Saina, the first Indian woman badminton player to achieve world number one ranking, clinched her maiden title here after notching up a dominating straight game victory against former world champion Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand, while Srikanth had to toil hard to register a thrilling three-game win over sixth seed Viktor Axelsen of Denmark in the men’s singles competition at the Siri Fort Sports Complex.
While Saina, a bronze medalist at the London Olympics, played like a champion to get the better off Intanon, 21-16, 21-14, in a relatively one-sided affair, world No. 4 Srikanth notched up his second successive title of the season by getting the better of sixth seed Axelsen, 18-21, 21-13, 21-12, in a grueling contest later in the day.
The men’s singles summit clash was a rematch of the Swiss Open final where Srikanth had defeated world No. 6 Axelsen to clinch his first title of the season.
But up first Saina, coming into the match with a 5-3 overall advantage over her rival, was not tested much as the Indian was prepared for Intanon’s deceptive game.
Saina encountered her rival with her better movements and powerful and accurate smashes to eventually wrest her second title of the season.
The girl from Hyderabad, who has been on a roll ever since her victory at the China Open, played like a champion as she anticipated her opponent’s moves and caught her on the wrong foot during rallies.
Intanon, seeded third, seemed to be affected by her marathon semifinal match against Carolina Marin of Spain which lasted for close to an hour and and half on Mar. 28.
Relieved to clinch her maiden India Open Super Series title, badminton star Saina Nehwal said it is a huge burden off her head as she has always struggled to win this tournament and vowed to bring more laurels for the country in future.
“I think a big burden off my head. Last four years, I was struggling, losing in pre-quarters or quarters, this is the first time I have reached the finals and won it. So too many surprises for me in this tournament, being the world no 1, winning the title. I am very proud of myself. I never thought this day will come after so much struggle, this is the best phase of my life,” Saina said after beating former world champion Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand.
Explaining further, Saina said: “I think the consistency with which I am playing is great. I reached three finals in last two months and it is not easy. My shoulder is taped, so it is obviously difficult playing against top players.”
Asked what is in store for future, Saina said: “Titles makes me hungry. Next I hope to win more and more titles, I hope to be fit and injury free. This result will motivate me to win more titles.”
“I was expecting a tough final and it was a good final. I was surprised to see so many spectators today. It was lovely crowd. It was really a fantastic match today,” she said.