Saina caps off a great year in Super Series Masters Final (Lead)

December 20th, 2008 - 5:23 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 20 (IANS) Saina Nehwal’s awesome run in the World Super Series Masters Final badminton ended Saturday as she went down to Hong Kong’s Cheng Wang in the women’s singles semi-final in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia.Seventh seed Saina lost 21-15, 14-21, 16-21 to third seed Wang in 42 minutes in the season ending $500,000 tournament. The 18-year-old Indian had got the better of Asian Games gold medallist Chen at the Beijing Olympics to reach the quarterfinal.

The World No.10 Indian had upset France’s P.I. Hongyan and Wong Mew Choo of Malaysia Friday evening to book the last semi-final slot from Group B. But two gruelling matches wore her down and she had to get ready early Saturday for her semifinal.

“I was really tired. Last night the match ended late and I went to sleep at 1 am. Today I had an early morning match. I won the first set but by the second I was tired and could not match her rallies,” Saina told IANS.

The loss notwithstanding, Saina would be proud of her achievement in 2008 as she reached the Olympic quarterfinal in her maiden appearance and then carried on her fine form in the circuit. Saina went on to win the Chinese Taipei Open and reached the semi-finals of the China Masters Super Series and the quarter-finals of the Hong Kong Open.

Saina also became the first Indian player to win a world junior crown in Pune in November. She was also named the most promising player by Badminton World Federation

Riding on the back of her good performance, Saina broke into the top-10 in December and this fetched her an invitation to rub shoulders with world’s best in the Masters Series Final (the biggest prize money event) after two Chinese players pulled out.

“It has been a great year for me. I made the quarterfinals in the Olympics and then broke into the top 10. So I could not have asked for any more.

“The invitation for Masters Final was unexpected. I got a chance when two high ranked player withdrew their name. I am happy that I was able to give my best here and reached the semi-finals. I have ended the year on a high,” she said.

Saina will next be playing in the Malaysian Open from Jan 6.

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