Saina rallies to triumph in Thailand Open

NEW DELHI, June 10:

Ace shuttler Saina Nehwal in action during the final match of Thailand Open Grand Prix  Championship on Sunday.
Ace shuttler Saina Nehwal in action during the final match of Thailand Open Grand Prix Championship on Sunday.

Ace Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal got a shot in the arm ahead of next month’s Olympics as she lifted the Thailand Open Grand Prix Gold title after rallying to beat Thailand’s Ratchanok Inthanon in the final of the event in Bangkok today.
The 22-year-old world number five Indian beat Inthanon 19-21 21-15 21-10 at the C U Sport Complex in Bangkok for her second title of the year after the Swiss Open win in March.
The win will come as a massive boost to Saina’s confidence ahead of Olympics in July-August.
The top seeded Indian was scratchy to start with but drew from her experience and superb maneuvering at the net to beat her second-seeded 17-year-old rival.
Although it was a see-saw battle to start with, Inthanon’s energy and fabulous baseline play stood out. The smash winner, which is Saina’s stock shot, was coming out more frequently from the Thai’s racquet who seemed to revel amid the partisan crowd’s thunderous cheering.
Inthanon, ranked 11th in the world, grabbed a 10-7 lead after Saina’s attempted smash landed outside the court and the teenager, to whom Saina had lost in the Sudirman Cup last year, made it 16-10 in no time.
At that point, Saina was struggling to match up to the Thai’s sheer athleticism and swiftness on the court.
In fact, most of the points that Saina notched up during the game were courtesy the errors committed by Inthanon instead of standout shots by the Indian.
The gap kept widening in favour of the Thai, whose spectacular speed in covering all ends on the court was commendable. Down 12-19, Saina staged a recovery of sorts making it 17-19 as Inthanon had an attack of nerves which led her to commit a few unforced errors.
She ended up wasting a game point by stroking one into the net but egged on by a vocal coach and vociferous home supporters, she managed to clinch the game on Saina’s serve.
Saina was clearly the better of the two at net but it was Inthanon’s seven smash winners against the Indian’s one which made the decisive difference in the game.
The change of ends in the second game also brought with it a change in fortunes as Saina took the lead by drawing Inthanon to the net and forcing her to commit mistakes. (PTI)


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