Saina Nehwal Enters World Badminton Semis For First Time; Assured of a Bronze

DoThe Best
By DoThe Best August 15, 2015 15:26

Saina Nehwal Enters World Badminton Semis For First Time; Assured of a Bronze

In her seventh world championship quarterfinal appearance, Saina Nehwal got a huge monkey off her back. The second seeded Saina defeated sixth seed Wang Yihan of China 21-15, 19-21, 21-19 to make the semifinals for the first time in her career. Saina is assured of a bronze medal.

In the final match on Friday evening in a packed stadium at Jakarta, Saina showed tremendous grit and application to defeat a Chinese rival that had a 9-2 win-loss record going into the world championship quarterfinals. The match lasted 72 minutes.

Saina will clash with local girl Lindaweni Fanetri in the semis on Saturday. Lindaweni created a flutter earlier on Friday when she stunned No. 4 seed Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei 14-21, 22-10, 21-12. The other semifinal will feature world champion and No. 1 seed Carolina Marin of Spain and Korea’s No. 8 seed Sung Ji Hyun, who defeated PV Sindhu in a gruelling three-game match that lasted 82 minutes.

Saina broke free midway through the first game. The four-point cushion (15-11) was good enough for the Indian to control the rest of the game as Saina won 21-15 in 19 minutes. She showed both poise and application to tame a Chinese rival she has a lot of knowledge about.

Saina had played Wang in March this year at All England championship in Birmingham. The 24-year-old Saina needed just 39 minutes to beat Wang 21-19, 21-6. On Friday, it was a very different contest. Wang, her right knee strapped, looked in discomfort in the opening game but came out all guns blazing in the second.

With clever flicks and drop shots, Wang took an early four-point lead and that made Saina, not the swiftest mover on court, work harder. Unlike the Sindhu-Sung contest, this match had shorter rallies. Saina got a lot of crowd support. Egged on by chants of “Jai Ho” Saina levelled at 7-7 and then slowly built a comfortable lead (13-9). But Wang had other ideas.

Winning eight points in-a-row, Wang, who won the silver medal at the London Olympics in 2012, controlled the match and recovered to lead 17-13. Meanwhile, Saina, in a bid to finish off the match, ran out of her two challenges and eventually lost the second game 19-21.

That statistics don’t matter when two ex-world No. 1s contest on a big platform was evident in the decider. Saina was a point down (10-11) at the changeover. Wang continued to protect her slender leads but Saina found her touch back and aided by a couple of lucky (net) points, the Indian ace levelled at 18-18 and didn’t look back.

With no margin for error, Saina held her nerves and shut out Wang in a thrilling finish much to the delight of her coach Vimal Kumar. Saina’s mental strength was clear. Her real physical test lies on Saturday. She is known to wilt under physical strain

DoThe Best
By DoThe Best August 15, 2015 15:26
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