Saina Nehwal becomes first Indian to reach World Badminton final

Brand-new DELHI: 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.

Saina will face World No 1 and defending champion Carolina Marin of Spain in the summit clash on Sunday. Marin came through a war of attrition versus Korea’s Sung Ji-hyun to claim a pulsating 21-17, 15-21, 21-16 triumph in a marathon encounter on Saturday that ebbed and flowed through a collection of momentum shifts.

The Spaniard was a surprise champion as ninth seed a year ago but has actually since risen to the top of the rankings with a game built on confidence, athleticism and a never-say-die attitude.

Fanetri, who has actually 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 actually 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.

Earlier on Friday, in a nerve-jangling one hour, 12 minute fight, Saina triumphed 21-15, 19-21, 21-19 versus China’s Wang Yihan to make her maiden entry into the Worlds semifinals, which assured her of at least a bronze medal.

In five earlier attempts, Saina had never crossed the quarters.

Saina started in an emphatic fashion and clinched the first game versus the world No. 6 Chinese without breaking much sweat. However, that was where the fight truly began. She allowed Yihan to wipe out a big deficit and win the second game. In the third game too, Saina did a lot of catching-up and was even trailing at 16-18. But it was here that Saina came up with some breathtaking strokes to move ahead of Yihan with a three point burst and then went for the kill.

The Indian ace, who has actually 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.
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