The world fears to face Chinese shuttlers. Their sheer dominance over the years send shivers down the spine to the best of the lot.
However, Saina Nehwal, who beat Li Xuerui to clinch her third Indonesia Open Super Series title in four years yesterday in Jakarta, showed that China is not invincible.
The 22-year-old Hyderabadi isn’t the one who believes that Chinese are impossible to beat.
“It is always difficult to play against Chinese. There are so many on the circuit and everyone is trying her best to beat them. The Chinese are too strong, but they are not impossible to beat,” Nehwal told MiD DAY, moments after her sensational win.
The world No 5 saved two match points before beating Xuerui, the reigning All England and Asian champion 13-21, 22-20, 21-19 after a tantalisingly close match for her maiden Super Series Premier crown this year and her second in as many weeks.
“This tournament was surely tougher as compared to the Thailand Open (last week). I worked more on my fitness for this tournament. Gopi Sir (coach P Gopichand) made a few changes in my game. He also worked more on my rallies, so that I could play longer matches.
That worked for me,” said Nehwal.
Nehwal continued her love affair with Indonesia where she won back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010 besides reaching the final in 2011.
Time to attack
The Indian ace looked out of sort in the first game, but quickly switched to attacking mode in the second. The decider kept everyone on the edge of their seats. Nehwal did not squander the slender lead this time around and shut the door on her opponent with a forehand winner.
For Xuerui, it was her first loss in five straight finals and first to Nehwal in two years, making the head-to-head record 4-2 in the Chinese’s favour. “Winning against Li is always special. I haven’t done that often,” she said.
Yesterday’s win must have surely boosted Nehwal’s confidence going into next month’s London Olympics.
However, she said the Games are not on her mind at the moment. “I don’t believe in peaking at the right time. I want to train hard and work more on my fitness and get ready for the Olympics.
“I’m just happy to win these two tournaments for now. I am not thinking about Olympics at the moment. I still have five weeks to prepare for it,” Nehwal signed off.
Titles will boost Saina’s confidence: Coach Gopi
National coach Pullela Gopichand said the back-to-back titles in two weeks will do a lot of good to Saina Nehwal’s confidence going into the London Olympics. Gopichand wants her to work more on fitness and iron out technical flaws ahead of the Games. “These two wins (Indonesia and Thailand) have come in at a crucial time. It will definitely boost her confidence. She needs to concentrate on her fitness and ensure that she peaks at the right time for the Olympics. We will work on her weaknesses after assessing her performance here,” Gopichand told MiD DAY.
The former All England champion credited Nehwal’s composure in the final. “Saina has had a tough schedule and also some tight matches in the last two weeks. But she maintained her cool and kept pushing hard. That worked for her,” added Gopichand. — Sundari Iyer