Saina Nehwal becomes the first non-Chinese shuttler to win a women's singles Super Series this year through her Australian Open triumph in Sydney
Sydney: Ace Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal lifted her first Super Series title in two years, clinching the USD 750,000 Star Australian Open after outplaying Spain’s Carolina Marin in the summit clash here today.
The sixth seeded Indian, who had won the India Open Grand Prix Gold earlier this year, prevailed 21-18, 21-11 in a 43-minute contest which left her richer by USD 56,000.
Saina Nehwal. Pic/Gettyimages
“I am very happy with the win. My hard work has paid off. My coaches have worked really hard to keep me injury-free. This victory could not have come at a better time for me,” an elated Saina, whose last Super Series triumph came in the Indonesia Open in June 2012, told PTI.
Important year ahead
“This is an extremely important year for me as I would be defending the Commonwealth Games gold medal and the Asian Games are also there. So, it will boost my confidence,” added the 24-year-old. Saina, who enjoyed a 1-0 head-to-head record against Marin going into yesterday’s match, logged the first point and displayed some deft netplay against her rival, stroking in some delectably timed volleys to take a 5-2 lead in the opening game.
But 21-year-old Marin was not the one to give up easily and narrowed the gap to 6-8 but seemed distinctly out of her comfort zone every time Saina dragged her towards the net.
The Indian sealed the opening game 21-18 after her world number 11 rival smashed one into the net 23 minutes into the match.
There was to be some moments of drama before the win came about. Leading 19-9, Saina challenged a line call that went against her but replays showed that the shuttle had in fact landed wide.
But Saina made amends quite quickly and clinched the title after Marin lobbed a shuttle wide.