Saina Nehwal would have liked to settle scores with her Beijing Olympics nemesis Maria Kristin Yulianti as soon as possible. But the 18-year-old would definitely not mind the wait as she targets her second major international title.
The second seed was drawn to face Yulianti in the semis but the Indonesian third seed succumbed to compatriot Pia Bernadet in the quarterfinal tie. Saina made the most of that opportunity to storm into the final of the Chinese Grand Prix badminton tournament in Taipei on Saturday.
The 2006 Philippines Open champion thrashed world No. 76 Bernadet 21-7, 21-11 to set up a title clash with the unseeded Malaysian Li Ya Lydia Cheah, who defeated local girl Yi Ju Chiu in the other semifinal.
This is the third major final for the Indian, who had also reached the summit clash of the World Junior badminton championship in 2007.
“I was a bit tense going into the match as she had beaten Yulianti yesterday. But once the tie began I found out that she was very tired and just went on the offensive,” Saina told Hindustan Times from Taipei.
Saina opened up a 11-4 and 17-5 lead in the first game and never had to look back from then. “I just kept on increasing the pace of the game and she had no answers.”
In fact, after that game Saina was mentally preparing herself to face Yulianti when Bernadet pulled off an upset. “The way she played against Yulianti had put me in a spot of bother. But things were completely different today.”
Saina now goes into the final as the favourite against a player she has very little knowledge about. The two have never played against each other.
Jayaram in summit clash
Mumbai boy Ajay Jayaram reached his second successive international final when he outplayed third seed Joe Wu 21-14, 21-15 in the semis of the North Shore city international. In other matches, Neha Pandit lost to Misaki Matsutomo of Japan 21-18, 21-18.