Lucknow: Top seed Saina Nehwal came out with a stupendous performance to save two match points and then defeat reigning World Champion Carolina Marin of Spain to retain the women’s singles title at the $120,000 Syed Modi International Badminton Championships here yesterday.

Saina Nehwal celebrates her win over Carolina Marin in Lucknow yesterday. Pic/PTI
Saina Nehwal celebrates her win over Carolina Marin in Lucknow yesterday. Pic/PTI 

The World No 3 defending champion, Saina outplayed the Spanish World No 7 to win the one-hour and 19-minute marathon final 19-21, 25-23, 21-16 and clinch the Grand Prix Gold crown at the Babu Banarasi Das Indoor Stadium. With the victory, Saina completed a hat-trick of wins against the second seeded Carolina in as many meetings between them. Also, this is Saina’s first title of 2015.

The Hyderabadi, who defeated compatriot PV Sindhu to win the same title here last year, did not start the match on a positive note as Carolina raced away to a 5-2 lead.

The Indian came back strongly to win a number of points in the next few minutes to take a vital 15-7 advantage. Just when it was looking that Olympic bronze medallist Saina will seal the game, Carolina showed her class to close the gap at 17-all.

The Spaniard carried the momentum with some deceptive shots which helped her to bag the first game 19-21.

Neck-and-neck battle
The second game was a neck-and-neck affair from the word go and from 15-all, both the shuttlers raised their games, not allowing the other the difference of more than a point.
It was here when the 24-year-old Indian crucially saved two matchpoints.

Carolina reverted by saving the next two gamepoints but on the third it was Saina who got the better of the Spaniard by winning her third gamepoint and pushed the match into the decider. Though the reigning European Champion tried fighting back, it was too much to ask from the 21-year-old as Saina closed out the encounter on her third matchpoint.

Elated after defending the title, Saina termed the victory as a "great" win. "It was a great win. I have been working hard for this tournament and really wanted to defend my title and to finally do it and that too by beating Caroline in the final is always a confidence booster," said Saina.

Number of times Saina Nehwal has beaten Carolina Marin in as many meetings between them