Saina Nehwal, who is in the last leg of her hectic three-week tournament marathon, has surprised and shocked all with her performance so far. A majority of the top women shuttlers have played in these three tournaments, some losing shockingly while others have pulled off brutal upsets.
But on Friday, Saina pulled off her biggest victory so far, when she got the better of former all England champion Tine Baun of Denmark in straight games to waltz into the semifinal of the Indonesia Open.
The 21-19, 21-19 victory has come at a time when Saina has been battling bad form and bad publicity. It has boosted her chances of defending this super series title.
In an email to her father on Friday morning, Saina had expressed her determination to win this time and sure enough, she caught the world No. 6 off guard on crucial points.
“I would say this was a match of two very attacking players and both were smashing the shuttle a lot,” said Pulella Gopi Chand, Saina's coach, from Jakarta. “But she caught Baun on the forehand near the net. From the beginning of the match itself, Saina looked in control.”
In the first game, Baun had taken a four point lead at 6-11 but Saina caught up quickly. In the second game however, she did not let Baun get a grip on the match at all, always managing to keep the lead.
The former world No 1 Dane is gradually returning to form after being out of action due to an injury. She started playing three months ago and had been the finalist in the Singapore Open super series last week.
But Gopi Chand refused to attribute Saina's win to Baun's rustiness. He felt this victory could mean the end of Saina's grey-patch, something which has been plaguing the 21-year-old since her first round loss in the India Open super series in April. Saina will be up against Chinese Taipei's Chen Shao Cheih next - the same opponent who had defeated her last week in Singapore. It remains to be seen if Saina can successfully conquer the demons of the last 19 days to retain this title.