2018 Commonwealth Games: Saina Nehwal beats PV Sindhu to win gold; Kidambi Srikanth settles for silver
“Keep calm. Don’t hurry. Wait for your turn. The chance will come, keep patience.” A lone voice kept imploring PV Sindhu in Telugu as she took on Saina Nehwal in the badminton women’s singles final at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast on Sunday.(Saina Nehwal vs PV Sindhu highlights) (Kidambi vs Lee highlights) (CWG live updates)
It was Sindhu’s mother, P Vijaya, who was advising her as the two biggest stars of Indian badminton clashed at the Carrara Sports and Leisure Centre to decide the gold medal. At stake, besides the yellow metal, were lot of others things. For Saina, it meant the satisfaction of regaining the gold back, taking back the mantle of being India’s best player after Sindhu had overtaken her, and proving her detractors wrong.
For Sindhu, it was a chance of winning a singles gold after losing in the semi-finals in 2014, of improving on their head-to-head that was 3-1 in favour of Saina. Both of them may not say it openly, but there is a tension between them as both are trying to be the country’s top player. Sunday’s clash was a chance of setting the record.
But in the end, Saina, with higher experience and better tactics, won 21-18, 23-21 to claim her second gold medal in singles, adding to the one she won at home in New Delhi in 2010.
Saina was aggressive from the start, her court coverage was superb and she controlled and dominated the rallies, not allowing Sindhu to establish her game. The 28-year-old former World No 1 stayed patient in long rallies, which are Sindhu’s forte, and waited for the right opportunities. She also read Sindhu’s deceptive strokes well and managed to fight them back.
Sindhu has had an easy time through to the final, beating defending champion Michelle Li in in straight games on Saturday. She had suffered an injury before leaving for Australia and had not played a single match in the team competition, and that showed in her performance on Sunday.
Saina established an early lead and maintained the advantage throughout the first game. The second was a lot closer and Sindhu had a handy lead before Saina came back strongly to wrap the game, match and the gold medal.
It was a great encounter –Saina emerged better on the day as she was fitter, and could manage to play to her tactics.
“I will put it as next to my Olympic medal and my world No.1 ranking (in terms of importance). So I would keep it somewhere there. It’s a gift to my father and mother, my country. It’s a very emotional moment for me after the disappointing loss in Rio Olympics due to injury,” Saina said after the match.
SRIKANTH MISSES OUT
In men’s singles, recently-crowned World No 1 Kidambi Srikanth fought well against Malaysian legend Lee Chong Wei before going down in three games.
Srikanth won the first game 21-19. He came back from 0-4 down to tie scores at 4-4. The scores went neck-and-neck from then on till 17-17 with Srikanth enjoying a slight advantage. However, the Hyderabad shuttler, playing aggressively as he did against Lee Chong Wei in the mixed team event final, pulled away from there and won the first game.
The Indian played catch-up in the second game too but by now the Malaysian legend, who moved smoothly and controlled the rallies, had established his ascendency and pulled away from 9-9 to make it 19-14 and win the game at 21-14.
Srikanth conceded a big lead in the decider and could never come back as by this time Lee Chong Wei had taken total control of the match, winning it 19-21, 21-14, 21-14.
India bagged another silver in badminton on Sunday when the men’s doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty lost to Marcus Ellis and Chris Langridge of England 13-21, 16-21.The Indian pair was the top seeds but the higher experience and coordinated play of the English pair saw it through.
India, who won the mixed team gold for the first time, thus finished on top in the standings winning two gold, three silver and one bronze. England (2-2-2+6) finished second with Malaysia 2-1-2=5) third.