India's badminton sensation Saina Nehwal beat reigning World Champion Ratchanok Intanon in the first singles of their Uber Cup Group Y clash against Thailand on Tuesday
New Delhi: Saina Nehwal produced one of her finest performances in recent times to guide Indian women's team to a comfortable victory over Thailand and catapult the hosts to the top of their Group in the Uber Cup badminton tournament here today.
Star shuttlers Saina and PV Sindhu notched up comfortable victories in the first two singles and then Commonwealh Games gold medalists pair of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa completed the drubbing with another gutsy win to put India 3-0 ahead at the Siri Fort Sports complex here.
Saina Nehwal in action against Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand during their Uber Cup badminton match at Siri Fort Stadium in New Delhi on Tuesday. Pic/AFP
It was vintage Saina on display here as the Indian rode on her array of shots and better court coverage to stave off the challenge from World champion Ratchanok Intanon 22-20 21-14 in the first singles to give India a brilliant start against Thailand.
Malaysia Grand Prix Gold winner, PV Sindhu then resisted determined fightback by Porntip Buranaprasertsuk from 11-14 to 19-19 in the first game to eventually prevail 21-19 21-14 in a 37 minute match in the second singles to swell India s lead to 2-0.
2011 World champions bronze medallist pair of Jwala and Ashwini, who recently won the bronze at Asian Championship last month, came up with another superb show to thrash Duanganong Aroonkesorn and Savitree Amitrapai 21-16 21-13 in a 33-minute doubles match here.
India and Thailand have already qualified for the quarter-finals.
Earlier, Saina dominated the proceedings from the start and was leading 11-8 at the break but Ratchanok relied on her deceptive wrist game to plot a fightback, as she caught up with the Indian at 12-12 and then moved neck and neck till 20-20.
However, the Thai girl faltered with her stroke at the nets and then Saina deceived her with a soft tap at the net to earn the bragging rights.
Saina came up with immaculately-timed smashes, drops and was equally good at the nets in the second game even as Ratchanok struggled with her strokes as she hit long and wide and found the nets too often.
At the interval, Saina was 11-4 ahead and the script didn't change after the break as the Indian came up with some bodyline and down the line smashes and deceptive slices to dominate the game.
In the end, Ratchanok gave Saina a cushion of six match points when she hit long. The Thai girl repeated the mistake once again as an emotional Saina let out a loud roar in relief.
"I still can't believe that I beat her in straight games and that too over here, where I have never played well. I got so emotional after winning. She is a world No 4 player and winning against her means I have trained really well and I hope to continue that in future," said Saina, who had lost to Ratchanok thrice, twice in the last two years.
PC Thulasi will play the third singles, while in the last doubles match, Saina and Sindhu will be paring up for the first time against Kunchala Voravichitchaikul and Sapsiree Taerattanachai.
P.V.Sindhu in action against her opponent Porntip Buranaprasertsuk of Thailand during their Uber Cup badminton match at Siri Fort Stadium in New Delhi on Tuesday. Pic/AFP
Among other teams, Japanese eves got the better of Malaysia to book their place in the Uber Cup quarter-finals, while their men's team defeated Hong Kong 5-0 to make it to the last eight. Danish men and women's sides also reached their respective knock-out stages.
While the Danes defeated Germany 5-0 to join Japan in the Uber Cup from Group Z, their male counterpart hammered England with an identical margin to make it to the last eight in Thomas Cup in Group B. Also making it to the last eight were Thailand and Indonesia in Thomas Cup from Group A and Korea and Indonesia in Uber Cup from Group X.