CWG 2018: Saina Nehwal beats PV Sindhu to clinch gold
Shuttler Nehwal defies injury to beat compatriot and top seed PV Sindhu 21-18, 23-21 for gold medal
Saina Nehwal erupts in joy after beating PV Sindhu to win the CWG women’s singles gold medal yesterday. Pics/PTI
A fitter, faster and more relaxed Saina Nehwal won her second Commonwealth Games singles gold medal, eight years apart, while signaling her intention to give her career one more push over the next few years. Saina shouldered one of the biggest workloads of her career with five matches in the team competition and another five in individual to collect a team gold and an individual gold.
Yesterday, Saina had PV Sindhu on the ropes for a considerable portion and had her struggling. Saina seemed to be holding the whip, whether at the net, winning more dribbles or executing more decisive smashes then her taller opponent. Saina ranked this CWG gold alongside her London Olympics bronze medal. She said, "I put it as next to my Olympic medal and my World No. 1 ranking. So I would keep it somewhere there. It's a gift to my father, mother and country."
PV Sindhu with her silver medal
She admitted that she did have some problems, as she played most of the days here. She said, "For me, it was even tougher because I have been playing for the last 10-12 days. My shin problem happened in the team event and I was playing with that. The courts here are harder and long rallies make it tougher. It would be good to get more recovery time. My match against Kirsty (Gilmour) went long and I probably aggravated it [shin] a bit."
Saina took the initiative early and opened a 11-6 lead and kept building on it, as Sindhu failed to find her rhythm. Saina pushed Sindhu to the deep and executed steep smashes. Sindhu compounded her own problems with unforced errors. From 14-20, Sindhu made a recovery to get to 18-20, before Saina closed it.Into the second game, Sindhu held a steady lead, but Saina ensured she didn't get too far ahead. Sindhu had a 13-8 lead and then 15-11, but Saina reduced it to 14-16.
Sindhu again went ahead 18-14 and then 19-16. That's when the duo was engaged in a 64-stroke rally, the longest of the match and it lasted 68 seconds. Saina won and the gap closed to 18-19 and then 19-all. Sindhu held a game point at 20-19, but Saina averted that. Saina was 21-20 ahead but Sindhu saved match point. The second match point at 22-21 was converted and Saina won 23-21 in 58 minutes.
A thrilled Saina went all around and threw a couple of racquets into the crowd. Saina, who won the singles gold in 2010 in New Delhi, has seen many highs and lows since. She won bronze at the London Olympics, but had an early exit at Rio 2016, due to injury. She also won medals at World Championships, reached the All England final and held the World No. 1 rank. In the time since Saina slid, PV Sindhu emerged as the big star, reaching the Rio Olympic final, World Championship final and now CWG final. But as Saina makes a triumphant return from injury, the big question facing Sindhu is if she can get over this consistent failure to win big finals.