By Ashok Kumar
Indian ace shuttler Saina Nehwal emerged winner of the Australian Badminton Open 2016 when she edged past Sun Yu of China 11-21; 21-14 and 21-19. This was her second title from three matches 2014 and 2016 in 2015 she lost to Spaniard Carolina Marin in the semis.
On road to the finals she beat former World Champions (2013) Ratchanok Itanon of Thailand 28-26; 21-16 in a tough battle in the quarter -finals and Wang Yihan (2011) of China in the semi-finals 21-8; 21-12. Clash with Ratchanok was a tough one as the first game stretched to 28-26. She said after the match “it was tiring and equivalent two games. But I kept my cool and did not rush through the game.”
The title fetched her purse of USD 56, 250. A bronze medallist at the London Olympics clinched her maiden title of the season that gave her a huge boost ahead of Rio Olympics.
This was her sixth clash with the tall Sun Yu and Saina defeated her in all the outings. The Sydney Olympic Park is becoming a happy hunting ground for Saina. In the first match, she overcame Australian-Chinese Joy Lai 21-10; 21-14. Well begun is half done, goes the saying. She was happy that she has won the first game as the first game sets the ambience and gives you the feel of the venue.
The 22 years old Sun Yu wrapped up the first game in 18 minutes in a fast paced contest. Then Saina took over from there and never looked back. Saina, however, didn’t allow the momentum shift and entered the break with a slender 11-10 lead after winning three points which included a video referral judgement.
What ensued next were fierce rallies with Saina trying to play Sun in all corners of the court.
The Indian, however, missed the lines a few times and Sun too came up with some accurate smashes to keep breathing down her neck at 14-15.
A determined Saina, however, moved to a four-point lead with Sun again hitting out.
The Indian herself produced a couple of superb down the line smashes.
A fighting Sun once again cut down the lead with a cross court smash.
But Saina soon moved to match point at 20-17.
Sun saved two after Saina hit wide and then faltered at the net.
However, the Indian grabbed the next point when Sun hit the net and threw her arms in the air in celebration.