Saina defends Sr. Nationals title with clinical straight-games win

Saina had come into the match with a better head-to-head form against Sindhu,

Saina Nehwal defeated P.V. Sindhu in the final. (File Photo)   -  Ritu Raj Konwar

Saina Nehwal defended her crown at the Senior Badminton Nationals, beating P.V. Sindhu in straight games in the final. This is Saina's fourth national title.

The three-time former champion used her powerful smashes to telling effect, registering a 21-18 21-15 win against Sindhu, a two-time winner.

In a repeat of last edition’s final in Nagpur, 2012 Olympics bronze medaliist Saina once again had the upper hand over Sindhu during the exciting clash which was witnessed by a capacity crowed at the TRP Indoor stadium in Guwahati.

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Saina had come into the match with a better head-to-head form against Sindhu, having got the better of her in their previous two international encounters since Saina's nationals final win in Nagpur in 2017. Saina beat her in straight games in both the Indonesia Masters and Commonwealth Games in 2018. But Sindhu had the last laugh in their Premier Badminton League encounter.

As it happened

Sindhu had to overcome a tough fight from the 19-year-old Ashmita Chaliha in the semifinals, while Saina had started her tournament on the wrong foot when she refused to play her match on Thursday, citing a “poor playing surface”.

On Saturday, Saina played a complete game, giving Sindhu little breathing space in either game.

In the first, she had built a healthy lead and was 15-11 up at one point before Sindhu fought back to take the score to 17-18. Saina, though, consolidated the lead and won the game with a down-the-line forehand winner.

Sindhu was a lot more aggressive in the second game. Saina, though, grew into the game with a combination of drop shots and forehand smashes and gained momentum in the back-end of the second game to put a stamp on the match.

 

Saina had also defeated 2016 Rio Games silver medallist Sindhu at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games summit clash last year.