After landing herself in a ditch for the first half hour, India’s Saina Nehwal worked her way to winning the Australian Super-Series final by defeating a feisty Sun Yu of China in women’s singles final. After losing the first game tamely, Saina also conceded an early lead to Yu in the second. Later, however, Saina found her range of shots and though Yu also played a superb game, Saina prevailed at the end of a 71-minute final. It was the Indian’s second Australian Open title after she won here in 2014. Denmark’s Hans-Kristian Vittinghus was the men’s singles champion on the last day of the tournament at Sports Center in the Australian city of Sydney.
Saina Nehwal of India finally won her first major tournament of the 2016 season. For most part of the year, Saina has been struggling with her form and the ankle injury added to her woes. But at the Xiamenair Australian Open Super-series tournament, one saw a rejuvenated Saina, who progressed through her rounds in style. First she defeated Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon and then broke her semifinal jinx by beating old foe Wang Yihan with consummate ease. However, Saina found a fighter in the title game on Sunday. The 6-feet tall Sun Yu had also come through with an exemplary display in the semifinal against Olympic gold medalist and compatriot Li Xuerui. The Chinese looked in far better touch than Saina in the first game. Though the Indian began with a 4-2 lead, Yu wiped it off and opened a huge 9-4 lead in the first game. Saina played like a ghost of her true self and conceded the first game 11-21 in just 18 minutes. The Indian improved somewhat in the second game but Yu looked on course at one stage with a 6-4 lead. It was at this point that Saina changed the course of the match. Cutting down on her unforced errors and producing an attacking game, Saina leveled the score to 8-8 and went into the break at 11-8. After the interval, Saina consolidated her advantage and forced the decider by winning the second game 21-14.
The only time Yu had beaten Saina previously was at the 2013 China Open. That was a tough match, which Yu won 16-21, 21-15, 21-17. Now the lanky Chinese had another chance to repeat her China Open heroics against the Indian. But Saina had other plans on Sunday as she began the third game with a 3-1 lead. While Saina still led 8-5, Yu reeled off 5 straight points to change the lead in her favor at 10-8. This was a tense moment for Saina but she managed to level at 10-10 and went to the break leading 11-10. When the players came back, Saina did not relinquish her lead until the end and despite Yu coming close; Saina had the last laugh with an 11-21, 21-14, 21-19 victory and the second title at the Australian Super-series tournament.
The men’s singles final, played earlier, also went to three games before the seasoned Dane Hans-Kristian Vittinghus could defeat Korean youngster Jeon Hyeok Jin. The 30-year old Vittinghus took the first game easily at 21-16 but lost the second 19-21 to the tenacious Korean. The third game belonged to the Danish star, who broke away after scores were level at 2-2 and clinched the men’s title of the Australian Open with a 12-16, 19-21, 21-11 victory.
China won two titles at Sydney on Sunday by claiming the women’s and mixed doubles while men’s doubles was won by Indonesia. The Chinese women’s doubles team of Bao Yixin/Chen Qingchen defeated Indonesia’s Nitya Krishinda Maheswari/Greysia Polii 23-21, 21-17 and their mixed doubles pair of Lu Kai/Huang Yaqiong defeated compatriots Zheng Siwei/Chen Qingchen 23-21, 21-17. Indonesia’s Marcus Fernaldi Gideon/Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo easily defeated countrymen Angga Pratama/Ricky Karanda Suwardi 21-14, 21-15.
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