Jakarta, January 26: Indian ace Saina Nehwal grinded her way to first final of the season with a combative win over China’s He Bingjiao at the USD 350,000 Indonesia Masters badminton tournament on Saturday.
The 28-year-old Indian, who was a runner-up here last year, notched up a 18-21 21-12 21-18 win over sixth seed Bingjiao, a world championship bronze medallist.
Eighth seed Saina will now face either Spain’s three-time World Champion and reigning Olympic champion Carolina Marin or China’s Chen Yufei, seeded third, in the women’s singles summit clash of the World Tour Super 500 event.
In their first ever meeting in international circuit, Saina showed better court coverage and unleashed some telling smashes to trouble the 21-year-old left-hander.
Saina lagged 0-2 initially but clawed back to 5-5 with a couple of smashes. Another powerful straight smash left the Chinese stranded as the Indian led 8-6. She then went into the break with a 11-7 advantage.
The Hyderabadi continued the good run after the breather to lead 16-11 but netted twice to allow Bingjiao narrow down the equation to 15-16.
A brilliant cross court smash and a superb drop helped the Chinese keep the deficit to a point till 17-18.
Bingjiao then won a video referral on a line call to make it 18-18. She then unleashed a smash to grab a crucial 19-18 advantage, before holding two game points. The Chinese sealed it when Saina went wide.
In the second game, Saina pulled away doubling the lead at 6-3 after an initial duel. Easy mistakes started creeping in Bingjiao’s game as she found the net often, sent the shuttle long and wide to allow Saina enter the break with a huge 11-3 lead.
After the interval, Bingjiao took four straight points before Saina engaged her rival in rallies to make it 14-7.
A beautiful-looking cross court net return helped the Indian swell the lead to 17-9. She then produced two roaring cross court smashes to inch closer to the game point, which she grabbed once the Chinese went wide.
Saina eventually took the match to the decider with a cross court slice.
In the final game, Saina continued to go strong, taking a 6-3 lead early on and then extended it to 9-5. The Indian unleashed a straight smash to leave Bingjiao on the ground. (HT)