Saina Nehwal exposed the mental frailty of top Chinese shuttlers with a come-from-behind victory over world champion Lu Lan to storm into the final of the Singapore Open on Saturday.
The world number six was completely outplayed in the opening game but displayed enough resilience to not only stage a comeback but also pocket the semifinal clash, 8-21, 21-17, 21-8, with relative ease.
The 21-year-old, who defeated Chinese Li Xuerui in the quarterfinals, will now face Tzu Ying Tai of Chinese Taipei in the summit clash.
However, such a possibility looked impossible after the opening game as the India Open champion struggled with the length of her strokes, thanks to the strong draft inside the hall.
Saina changed tactics with the change in ends and began engaging Lan in long rallies. Though the Chinese maintained her advantage in the initial exchanges, the frustration of not getting easy points soon began to show in her game.
The Indian ace pocketed the second game, forcing Lan to commit four consecutive errors and, once she won a long rally at 4-4 in the decider, her Chinese opponent surrendered without any fight.
"She was very fast in the opening game and I couldn't understand the drift. But I always knew that I will have a chance from the other side and engaged her in long rallies in the second," Saina told Hindustan Times from Singapore.
Kashyap goes down
While Saina reached her second Super Series summit clash, compatriot P. Kashyap failed to book his maiden final berth after going down to Sony Dwi Kuncoro of Indonesia 21-19, 22-20 in a keen contest. The 22-year-old was very effective on the net but the more experienced Indonesian played the big points well to reach the final.