Saina Nehwal did India proud on Saturday, when she inscribed her name in history books as the only Indian women to have ever entered the final of the Yonex 2015 All-England Open Badminton Championships. The All England Open Badminton Championships is one of the oldest and most prestigious open badminton tournaments in the world. It attracts the best talent and players regard the tournament in the same breath as that reserved for Wimbledon in tennis. The intensity provided by the supercharged atmosphere at the new Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham is not matched in any other BWF event. On a great day for the Indian badminton fans, India’s top woman shuttler, Saina Nehwal created history by becoming the first Indian woman to enter the all-England final on Saturday. In her semifinal match against Sun Yu of China, Saina came through with flying colors with a 21-13, 21-13 victory in 51 minutes. She is now one step away to make another record as the third Indian badminton player to win the coveted event after the legendary Prakash Padukone in 1980 and Pullela Gopichand in 2001. In the men’s singles final on Sunday, China’s Chen Long will be challenged for the title by Denmark’s Jan O Jorgensen. World champion Chen Long was in great form in his 21-13, 21-12 victory against another living legend and compatriot Lin Dan, who is the five-time winner at the All England championships. The Dane, Jorgensen defeated Sho Sasaki of Japan 21-11, 21-12 to set up a clash with Chen Long. Jorgensen is the first European since 2004, when another Dane Peter Gade in 2004. Incidentally the 1999 champion Gade lost to Lin Dan in the 2004 final. In Sunday’s five finals, except the women’s singles, China will be on hunt for four titles and they are already assured of at least one since the women’s doubles is going to be an all-Chinese affair.
Saturday brought cheers to Indian fans as Saina Nehwal sailed into the final of 2015 All England Championships. The world no.3 from India was seeded third in the tournament. She didn’t encounter much problem in beating her Chinese opponent Sun Yu prevailed 21-13, 21-13 in the 51-minute semifinal. Earlier in the quarterfinal, Saina defeated another Chinese and her nemesis Wang Yihan. It was after two years that Saina could get past Yihan, whom the Indian had last beaten in a last-eight encounter at the Barclaycard Arena.
Despite a poor start against Sun Yu in the semifinal, Saina brought out her repertoire of badminton shots and prevailed over the 18th seeded player. In the first game, Yu raced away to a 7-2 lead against Saina but the Indian fought back to make it 11-all. From there, it was a smooth progress as she led 16-13 and then reeled off 5 straight points to take the game 21-13. Yu came back strongly in the second game and the two players went until 12-12. At this point, Yu ran into a problem and injured her ankle as she shaped for a smash. After a brief medical break, the match continued but Yu’s movements looked impaired. The 24-year old Saina benefitted from the handicap of her opponent and won seven straight points to win the game and the match to create history. In the final on Sunday, Saina will face world champion Spaniard Carolina Marin, who defeated Taiwan’s Tai Tzu Ying 21-18, 21-11.
In the men’s singles, Denmark’s Jan Jorgensen defeated Sho Sasaki of Japan 21-11, 21-12 to set up the title clash with the famous Chinese Chen Long. On his part, Chen Long showed great consistency in overcoming five-time All England champion Lin Dan also of China, 21-13, 21-12.
In the mixed doubles’ final, Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir of Indonesia disappointed the Birmingham crowd with a victory over English couple Chris and Gabby Adcock. In the final, the Indonesians will take on the strong Chinese pair of Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei. In the all-Chinese women’s doubles final, fifth seeds Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang will play against Bao Yixin and Tang Yuanting. In the men’s doubles, another Chinese pair, Fu Haifeng and Zhang Nan will have to fight out with the Danish pair of Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen for the title.