Ace shuttler Saina Nehwal on Saturday created history by becoming the first Indian singles player to reach the summit clash of the BWF Super Series Finals after defeating Tine Baun of Denmark in the semifinals at Liuzhou in China.
World No 4 Saina beat number five Baun 21-17, 21-18 in 34 minutes to set up a summit clash on Sunday against China’s world number one Yihan Wang who defeated compatriot and world number three Xin Wang in the other semifinal.Jwala Gutta and V Diju are the only other Indians to have achieved the feat when the mixed doubles pair reached the Super Series Finals in the 2009 edition of the tournament before losing to Christinna Pedersen and Joaquim Nielsen. Saina, who had topped Group B round robin league, could not dominate his opponent in smash and net play and lagged behind marginally. But the Indian ran away winners as she did overwhelmingly better in the rallies from which she won most of the points.
The Indian had eight smash winners against Baun’s nine and 11 net winners to the Dane’s 12. In rallies, Saina collected 23 winners as against 14 by Baun.
The first game was a see-saw affair with both the players leading in turns till 14-14. Saina then zoomed ahead with four straight points before pocketting the game 21-17. In the second game, Saina was never behind after trailing 1-2 initially. Both the players were levelled at 11-11 and then 13-13 before the Indian surged ahead again just like in the first game to take 19-14 lead.
At this point, Saina seemed to have slackened a bit and that allowed Baun to come back into the match at 18-19. But that turned out to be the last desperate attempt for Baun as Saina wrapped up the second game 21-18 and the match by taking two consecutive points.