Saina Nehwal came within sniffing distance of securing her first big win of this year and her third straight title at the Indonesia Open. She was one game up against Wang Yihan of China and at 20-19 in the second game needed just that one perfect shot to achieve victory.
Yihan levelled, won the next point and then won the game 23-21 - forcing the match into the decider and effectively snatched the match away from under Saina's nose.
Yihan was world No. 1 for a major part of 2010.The match, which lasted a little more than an hour, tested the two players as long rallies were the day's special. Let's not forget that this culminated a long three-week schedule that was packed with three tournaments. It may have left the world No. 4 Indian with little energy to bounce back in the game. Yihan, who played a week less than Saina, won 12-21, 23-21, 21-14 and maintains a perfect 3-0 head-to-head record against the Hyderabadi.
Wei does the trick
While Saina couldn't complete a hattrick in Indonesia, men's world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia managed to do it. He beat Denmark's Peter Gade 21-11, 21-7.
Apart from him, all the winners of this Super Series Premier event are from China, once again proving that they are way ahead of others in badminton.
Saina has been displaying inconsistent results since her Swiss Open GP Gold victory in March this year.
Though her coach Pullela Gopi Chand feels she needs to pull up her socks to get through this lean patch, the 21-year-old would derive confidence from her victory over Denmark's Tine Baun, a very experienced shuttler.
Her father Harvir Singh is not worried. "Every player goes through such a phase. You can't keep winning all the time. I was watching her match on TV and I thought she had a wonderful chance in the second game," he said from Hyderabad.
"But pressure might have gotten to her. She has not played Yihan very often, so you have to factor that in also. But I am still very proud of her."