Super Saina in hunt for Thai Open title
Saina Nehwal was the one of the few seeds to stand tall at the Thailand Open Grand Prix Gold on Saturday, as some heavyweights made an exit from this pre-Olympic tournament.other Updated: Jun 09, 2012 23:46 IST
Saina Nehwal was the one of the few seeds to stand tall at the Thailand Open Grand Prix Gold on Saturday, as some heavyweights made an exit from this pre-Olympic tournament.
The world No. 5 Indian defeated local player and third seed Porntip Buranaprasertsuk 24-22, 21-11 to enter the final, where she will face another upcoming Thai shuttler Ithanon Ratchanok.
Saina's victory, however, went unnoticed as world champion and Olympic gold medalist, China's Lin Dan, tasted defeat in the men's semifinal.
It was one of the rare occasions when 'Super Dan', as he is known, went down 17-21, 16-21 to Indonesia's Sony Dwi Kuncoro.
He was not the only top seed to be shown the door.
The Danish pair of Joachim Fischer and Christinna Pedersen, in mixed doubles, and Xia Hyan and Jinhua Tang of China, in women's doubles, were also on the casualty list.
The top seeded Saina struggled initially, trailing 2-9 in the first game. But she picked up point-by-point and drew level at 16-all.
"She had to fight for those points," coach, P Gopi Chand, told HT from Bangkok. "It was a good show as winning the first game was crucial."
Her opponent in the final is the 16-year-old sensation Inthanon, who is ranked 11th. Though she has beaten many top-10 players and even won once against Saina, Gopi Chand feels the match will be close.
Ithanon has been struggling with an ankle injury for a couple of months, which was evident in the India Open Super Series in April, where she retired from her second round match.
"She has been consistent despite the injury, so let's see what happens on Sunday," he said.