Badminton: Aggressive Saina trumps Sindhu to clinch gold

With a 21-18, 23-21 victory over her compatriot and rival, Saina Nehwal obtained her second Commonwealth Games singles gold.

Saina Nehwal (left) and P. V. Sindhu with their medals after the women's singles final. Photo: PTI   -  PTI

Saina Nehwal defeated P. V. Sindhu to clinch her second Commonwealth Games women’s singles title in style at the Carrara sports arena here on Sunday.

The former World No. 1 was determined and aggressive all through as she overcame the challenge from compatriot and current World No. 3 Sindhu in straight games. Her 21-18, 23-21 victory gave her the gold medal, the same result as in New Delhi, 2010.

The 28-year-old had slowed down on court after a knee injury a couple of years ago. But in the Commonwealth Games, she has been successful, contributing heavily in India’s first ever triumph in the mixed-team event last week and rounding off the fruitful fortnight with an impressive climax. It took her 56 minutes to dispose of Sindhu.

Aggressive approach

Saina profited with an aggressive strategy in the final. Her strokes were crisp as she took to an early lead. Saina developed a 9-4 lead in the first game, paralysing Sindhu at the net and demoralising her with heavy smashes. It was soon 20-14 and although Sindhu saved four game points, it only delayed the inevitable.

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Sindhu bounced back well in the second game and looked to be taking the contest into the deciding game. Sindhu was ahead for most of the second game, but Saina never allowed her to widen the gap too much. She kept pace with her opponent before levelling at 20-all. Even though Saina looked to be the more exhausted of the two participants, she hung on bravely. She eventually overcame Sindhu, who saved one match point but returned a smash wide in the next. Saina instantly threw both her hands up in the air in exultation.

‘Emotional moment’

Saina said, “I will really put this with my Olympic medal and my World No. 1 ranking. It’s a very emotional moment. I have been waiting for that one great victory after the disappointing loss in Rio 2016 where I had to retire because of my injury and had to go through surgery on my right knee.”

Saina has now beaten Sindhu thrice in three matches in the last seven months.

Sindhu was gracious in defeat, and expressed delight in playing an all-India final. She said, “The prospect itself was exciting and it is nice that it came true. The second was anyone’s set. I thought I could win it, but it was not to be. However, it is a good game overall and I am happy I tried my best.”