BWF Super Series Finals: Saina Nehwal bounces back to stun World champion Carolina Marin

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Saina Nehwal
Saina Nehwal

After having lost her opening match surprisingly, it needed a special performance from Saina Nehwal to stay in the hunt in the prestigious tournament, and the Indian star did just that. With her back to the wall,  Saina Nehwal scripted a remarkable victory over reigning world champion Carolina Marin to turn around her campaign at the BWF Super series finals, even as her Indian compatriot in the men’s singles Kidambi Srikanth faced exit after suffering his second straight loss in the men’s singles.

Facing an early exit after her capitulation against Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara, Saina rose like a phoenix to notch up a memorable 23-21, 9-21, 21-12 win over the World No. 1 in a women’s singles match that lasted an hour and 15 minutes. The Indian now plays defending champion Tai Tzu Ying in her final league match. World No. 8 Srikanth’s campaign is almost over after he went down 13-21, 18-21 to Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen in a Group B match.

In the women’s singles match opening game, Saina led 9-4 but she misjudged a couple of shots and Marin too stepped up the pressure by dominating the net to grab the lead with six straight points. However, Saina ensured she had the advantage at the break.  Marin tried to keep the shuttle at the forecourt by drawing Saina close to the net and marched ahead to 15-12. Saina fought back and wrested control at 16-15 when the Spaniard hit the net. Saina continued to surge ahead with Marin succumbing to unforced errors, reaching 19-16.

Marin then drew level at 19-19 before Saina earned the game point with Marin finding the net. But a couple of wayward shots and it was 21-20 in favour of Marin. However, another forehand return going to net and a wide shot by Marin gave the game point to Saina, who grabbed it this time.

The second game started on an aggressive note with the duo battling hard and not giving an inch in a thrilling encounter. Saina kept her poise and even smiled at her mistakes while pumping her fist after winning crucial points.

Marin kept the shuttle at back hand and deep forehand of Saina, testing her all the time. She moved into the lead at 7-5. The Spaniard was called for a fault when her racquet touched the net, but unfazed, she continued to race ahead and entered the interval with a five point advantage. Saina tried to slow down the pace of the rallies after the break, but Marin continued to dominate by playing her acute angled strokes. The Indian also faltered with a few unforced errors to allow Marin to gallop away with the second game.

The decider started on an aggressive note again as once again the duo fought tooth and nail. Saina moved into a slender 10-5 lead at one stage before Marin reduced it down to 8-11. However, a mistimed shot gave the Hyderabadi an 11-8 lead at the interval.

Saina continued to exert pressure on her opponent after the break and pushed her to commit errors. Marin’s unforced errors fuelled Saina’s charge as she extended her lead to 16-8. A couple of terrific angled smashes took Saina to 19-9. Marin grabbed three points then, but Saina moved into the match point when Marin hit wide and closed the issue comfortably in the end. It brought much needed relief for Saina and kept her in the tournament.