Mumbai: India’s adept badminton star, Saina Nehwal roared back like a lioness after bearing career hampering knee surgery for five months. The former world no. 1, begin her New Year with the magnificent Malaysian Masters Grand Prix Gold title on Sunday.
London Olympics bronze-medallist, Saina was placed against 19, -year-old Thai Pornpawee Chochuwong. The hard won battle which lasted for over 46-minute, directed the score board through 22-20 22-20 to fall in the side of the top-seeded, Siana.
It was her first title after last year’s Australian Open. However, counted 23rd for the overall title’s head.
It was for the first time, that the two were faced opposite to each other on the battling court. Saina was on the backfoot in the opening game when Chochuwong reeled off four consecutive points to grab the early initiative.
Chochuwong maintained the advantage going forward and was placed 11-5 at the break. However, Saina narrowed the gap to make it 10-13 before drawing level at 19-19 and then saving a game point. Chochuwong could not handle the pressure thereafter as Saina drew from her experience to clinch the opening game after a 20-minute slog.
In the second game as well, Chochuwong was quicker off the blocks with a 3-0 lead but this time Saina did not leave it for too late and took the lead at 7-5. The Thai teenager, however, drew level at 8-8 and 11-11 but Saina did not allow her to clinch the momentum. The Hyderabadi remained in the lead, albeit slender, before blowing away four match points to help Chochuwong draw level at 20-20. But the Indian managed to get over the hiccup and wrap up the issue soon after for what would be a massive morale-booster for her.
Sania Nehewal has won over twenty international titles, which include ten Superseries titles. Although she reached to the world no. 2 ranking in 2009, it was only in 2015 that she was able to attain the world no. 1 ranking. And thereby becoming the only female player from India & overall the second Indian player – after Prakash Padukone – to achieve this feat. She has represented India three times in the winning bronze medal in her second appearance.
(With inputs from agencies)