Ace Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal fought her way to the Hong Kong Super Series final with a gruelling three-game victory over sixth seed Juliane Schenk of Germany in Wanchai on Saturday.
The second seeded Indian registered a 21-19 17-21 21-12 win over Juliane in a 53-minute women's singles semifinal match.
20-year-old Saina will lock horns with third seed Shixian Wang of China in the summit clash tomorrow. Shixian beat top seed and compatriot Xin Wang 21-12 21-14 in another semifinal match.
In a battle of nerves, Saina was trailing 8-12 but the Indian won four straight points to first catch up with the German and then level 17-17 before marching ahead to pocket the first game.
But the Hyderabadi couldn't hold on to the lead in the second game and from 5-5, Juliane moved ahead in strides to bounce back into the match.
In the decider, Saina gave no chance to her rival and opened a 6-1 lead before surging ahead to 11-3 and 19-9 before wrapping up the match.
"The final will be a tough match because Shixian is in good form. It has been a fantastic year for Saina and will have to see how she plays tomorrow. She has been very consistent and have done well in bigger events and am happy overall," national coach and Saina's mentor Pullela Gopichand told PTI.
"She missed out of at least five super series this year because the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games were more important events but it also means that she missed out of some events which otherwise could have taken her to the number one spot. But it doesn't matter, what matters is number of wins," he added.
Saina registered three back-to-back titles this year, winning the Indian Open, Singapore Open and defending the Indonesian Open. But the icing of the cake for her was the Commonwealth Games gold medal.
In the Asian Games last month, Saina, however, lost in the quarterfinals to Pui Yin Yip of Hong Kong. However she didn't take time to take her revenge as the Indian beat Pui Yin Yip in straight game in the quarterfinal of the Hong Kong Open to reach the semifinals.
"It is good that she didn't take much time to recover from that loss," Gopichand said.