Saina Nehwal scripted a remarkable victory over reigning World Champion Carolina Marin to turn around her campaign at the BWF Super Series Finals even as Srikanth faced exit after suffering his second straight loss in the men’s singles.
Facing early exit after her capitulation against Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara on Wednesday, Saina rose like a phoenix to notch up a memorable 23-21, 9-21, 21-12 win over the World No. 1 in a women’s singles match that lasted an hour and 15 minutes. The Indian plays defending champion Tai Tzu Ying in her final league match on Friday.
World No. 8 Srikanth’s campaign is almost over after he went down 13-21 18-21 to Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen in a Group B match. His hope of progressing any further hinges on a match between Japan’s Kento Momota and Chinese Taipei’s Chou Tien Chen. The 22-year-old from Guntur will meet Chinese Taipei’s Chou Tien Chen on Friday in his final Group B match in the round-robin stage.
In the women’s singles match that saw a lot of vociferous cheering and vocal celebrations and pumping of fist, it was Saina who walked away with a smile on her face. Saina came out with a positive attitude and it reflected in her game as she used her repertoire of strokes to tame her formidable opponent, who was not as nimble-footed as Okuhara and also committed too many errors on her forehand.
In the opening game, Saina led 9-4 but she misjudged a couple of shots and Marin too stepped up the pressure by dominating the net to grab the lead with six straight points. However, Saina ensured she had the advantage at the break.
Marin tried to keep the shuttle at the forecourt by drawing Saina close to the net and marched ahead to 15-12. Saina fought back and wrested control at 16-15 when the Spaniard hit the net. Saina continued to surge ahead with Marin succumbing to unforced errors, reaching 19-16.
Marin then drew level at 19-19 before Saina earned the game point with Marin finding the net. But a couple of wayward shots and it was 21-20 in favour of Marin. However, another forehand return going to net and a wide shot by Marin gave the game point to Saina, who grabbed it this time.
Sania was bulldozed in the second but came back strongly in the third.
Saina took a 10-5 lead at one stage before Marin reduced it down to 8-11. Saina continued to exert pressure and pushed her to commit errors. Marin’s unforced errors fuelled Saina’s charge as she took the match.