Saina Nehwal had another successful outing on Saturday, in which she edged out local favorite Lindaweni Fanetri to enter her maiden BWF World Championships final. In the title game, Saina will have a showdown with top seed and defending champion Carolina Marin, who fought hard against Korea’s 8th seed Sung Ji Hyun before winning a 90-minute battle in three games. In men’s singles draw, China’s no.1 seed Chen Long will also defend his 2014 title, when he takes on Malaysia’s former world no.1 Lee Chong Wei, who defeated no.2 seed Jan O Jorgensen. The other title defenders, who entered the final on Saturday; were China’s mixed doubles pair, Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei. But as usual, China have their feet in all categories for the titles, except the women’s singles.
After her brilliant quarterfinal show against Wang Yihan, Saina Nehwal faced an inspired Indonesian, Lindaweni Fanetri, for whom support came from the entire house. But Saina kept her nerves despite Fanetri’s crowd energy and the Indonesian’s miraculous conquest of Taiwan’s no.4 seed Tai Tzu Ying in quarterfinals. Fanetri had a knee injury, for which she had to be attended on-court but she continued to score points against Saina regardless. The Indian became somewhat edgy in the second game with the crowd totally against her. But Saina recovered quickly from the temporary loss of nerves and finally went through to the final with a 21-17, 21-17 victory. Saina Nehwal is the first ever Indian in a World Championships title game. The Indian’s biggest challenge comes on Sunday against a tricky rival, Spain’s Carolina Marin, who had last beaten her in the All-England final in March 2015. On her part, the Spaniard had a tough match against Korea’s 8th seeded Sung Ji Hyun. In the fast-paced semifinal, Marin won the first game but lost the second. In the third, Marin trailed 8-13 at one stage but she displayed the quality of a true champion in digging deep into her reserves and reeled off 10 points in a row to win at 21-17, 15-21, 21-16.
In the men’s draw, China’s no.1 seed and reigning champion, Chen Long won easily against Japan’s Kento Momota. The Chinese kept the pressure on Momota, who showed flashes of good game in between. But Chen proved strong in the end to take the match at 21-9, 21-15. In the other semifinal, Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei rode over no.2 seed Jan O Jorgensen of Denmark in the first game. Later, however, Jorgensen tried to match the celebrated Malaysian and even took a brief 14-12 lead. But that was as far as the Dane could go because Lee’s firing smashes and delicate drops proved too much. The Malaysian walked off with a 21-9, 21-19 victory and the title clash between Chen Long and Lee on Sunday will be an interesting affair.
In the mixed doubles, defending champions Zhang/Zhao faced a very strong challenge from Indonesia’s Tontowi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir. After the pairs traded the first two games, Zhang/Zhao made a strong recovery to take the match 20-22, 23-21, 21-12 in 92-minutes. In the title bout, the no.1 seeds will take on their compatriots and no.4 seeds Liu Cheng/Bao Yixin., who also had a tough match with another Chinese mixed doubles team of Xu Chen/Ma Jin before coming through at 21-13, 15-21, 21-19 in 69 minutes.
Denmark’s women’s doubles team of no.4 seeded Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl entered the final with an easy 21-12, 21-15 victory over Japan’s Naoko Fukuman/Kurumi Yonao. For the title match on Sunday, the Danes will face China’s no.5 seeds Tian Qing/Zhao Yunlei, who defeated local hopes Greysia Polii/Nitya Krishinda Maheswari 21-8, 21-16.
Men’s doubles title bout on Sunday will be played between Indonesia’s no.3 seeds Mohammad Ahsan/Hendra Setiawan and China’s no.9 seeds Liu Xiaolong/Qiu Jihan. Ahsan/Setiawan proved too good for the top-seeded Koreans Lee Yong Dae/Yoo Yeon Seong and won at 21-17, 21-19 in 46 minutes. The Chinese pair of Liu/Qiu, however encountered a tough resistance in their match against Japan’s no.6 seeds Hiroyuki Endo/Kenichi Hayakawa before winning a thrilling contest 21-16, 21-23, 22-20.