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Saina-sational win

Saina Nehwal had to summon all her mental strength on Sunday as she overcame a disastrous start and an overly aggressive opponent to become the first Indian woman to win a Super Series final, reports Abhijeet Kulkarni.

india Updated: Jun 21, 2009 23:45 IST
Abhijeet Kulkarni

Saina Nehwal had to summon all her mental strength on Sunday as she overcame a disastrous start and an overly aggressive opponent to become the first Indian woman to win a Super Series final.

The 19-year-old junior world champion upset third seed Wang Lin 12-21, 21-18, 21-9 in 49 minutes to lift the Indonesia Open crown in Jakarta.

This is her third international title after the 2006 Philippines Grand Prix and 2008 Chinese Taipei GP Gold.

The win also earned her 9200 ranking points and a prize purse of $18,750.

Saina began poorly, losing the first game without a fight. A repeat of last week's Singapore Open quarterfinal, which Lin won in straight games, seemed on the cards, but Saina staged a remarkable comeback.

“I was very nervous and couldn't sleep well,” she told HT from Jakarta.

Pep talk from travelling coach, Atik Jauhari, helped as he told her not to play the flat aggressive game that the Chinese thrived on.

“We had discussed this but I was not following the plan. Atik sir told me not to play drivers and half smashes,” she said.
The change of plan worked as Saina forced the 2007 junior world champion to err at the net.

Saina then dominated the net play and kept prolonging the rallies against a player known to be restless and overly aggressive at times.

Lin took a 7-5 lead in the decider but Saina came up with some incredible defensive strokes to win six points in a row.

“The second game was very important. I blunted her strokes and she was tired in the decider,” Saina said.

She admitted that the win had come at the right time. “It will give me a lot of confidence going into the World Championship in August.”