Saina in Hong Kong Super Series final (Lead)

December 11th, 2010 - 9:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Hong Kong, Dec 11 (IANS) India’s Saina Nehwal staved off a strong challenge from Germany’s Juliane Schenk 21-19, 17-21, 21-12 to move into the final of the Hong Kong Open Super Series badminton tournament Saturday.World No.4 and second seeded Saina won against the sixth seed Juliane in 53 minutes at the Queen Elizabeth stadium.

With this victory, Saina improved her head-to-head record against Juliane 5-2 with wins in the last four meetings and second of the season, having got the better of her in the All England earlier.

Saina, who has been in formidable form this season, will aim to win her fourth title and third Super Series of the year. She won three back-to-back tournament in Indian Open, Singapore Open and Indonesia Open Super Series in June, besides grabbing the Delhi Commonwealth Games gold at home. She also achieved the career-best ranking of World No.2.

In Sunday’s final, Saina will face third seeded and World No.5 Chinese Shixian Wang, who upset her compatriot and top-seed Xin Wang 21-13, 21-14 in the other semi-final that lasted just 31 minutes.

If Saina wins Sunday, it will be her fourth Super Series title. The first one was the Indoensia Open in 2009.

It will be a tough ask for Saina though. She has lost to Shixian in their only meeting at the World Championships quarters this year.

But Saina, who had demolished her Asian Games-slayer Pui Yin Yip 21-11, 21-10 in the semis, would rely on her fighting ability against Chinese opponents.

Against Juliane, Saina dug deep into her reserves. The first game was fiercely fought. The German led 12-8, but Saina levelled taking four points in a row.

Saina was again down 13-17, but came out with her best in the face of adversity and took seven points to establish a 20-17 lead that rattled the German, who saved two game points before giving up.

The second game also saw both breathing down each other’s neck. But Juliane saw off the initial resistance from Saina and opened up a 15-9 lead and the gap was too side for Saina too close.

But it was in the decider that Saina showed her class as she maintained an upper hand right from the start and consolidated the lead. She led 6-1 and then stretched it to 13-6, before closing the door on the German.

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