Denmark Open: Saina goes down fighting to Tai Tzu Ying

Saina Nehwal staged a strong performance but was outplayed by World No. 1 Tai Tzu Ying in the Denmark Open women's final.

The last time Saina Nehwal beat Tai Tzu Ying was back in 2013. (File Image)   -  AFP

Saina Nehwal gave her all before losing steam as the ace Indian shuttler yet again succumbed to nemesis and world no.1 Tai Tzu Ying to settle for a runner-up finish at the Denmark Open here on Sunday.

In an exciting but energy-sapping 52-minute final, Saina lost 13-21, 21-13, 6-21 to her superior Chinese Taipei rival.

Tzu Ying claimed the Denmark Open title after a gap of two years. She had last won the tournament in 2016. The win also bettered Tzu Ying head-to-head record against Saina to 13-5.

In fact, this was Saina’s fifth straight defeat against Tzu Ying this year. The Indian had come out second best four times earlier this year -- Indonesia Masters, All England Championships, Badminton Asia Championships and in the Jakarta Asian Games.

The top seed Taipei player meant business from the start as she dictated the pace in the first game to race to a 6-1 lead. Saina looked indecisive but debatable poor line calls also cost her dearly. Tzu Ying on the other hand, was at her clinical best as she engaged Saina in long rallies to tire her out.

The Chinese Taipei shuttler never let the Indian take the lead even once in the opening game as she led 11-6 and continued to maintain the upper hand. She pocketed the first game in all of 15 minutes.

But the world no. 10 Indian, who was unseeded here, came out all guns blazing in the second game. Saina’s ploy to adopt an attacking approach worked wonders as she completely dominated the second game. Riding on her booming cross court smashes and some indecision from Tzu Ying, Saina led 11-5 at the break and then went on to win the game 21-13 to draw parity.

But the Indian failed to continue with the momentum in the decider as her legs gave up in the wake of an intense match. Tzu Ying curtailed her mistakes and once again engaged Saina in long rallies which drained out the Indian.

Unforced errors returned to haunt Saina in the third game as she was guilty of finding the net and hitting wide on numerous occasions. Tzu Ying brought her A game to the fore and went on a nine-point rampage to take a commanding 11-2 lead in the third game. The World No. 1 held on, offering Saina little to no room to come back and clinched the third game 21-6 and with it, the championship.