Super Saina

‘Father's Day' continues to be a lucky day for Saina Nehwal. On this day in June 2009 she became the first Indian woman ever to win a Super Series title by bagging the prestigious Indonesian Open. Again, on ‘Father's Day' this year (June 20), Saina picked up her second Super Series title by winning the Singapore Open. She defeated Tzu Ying Tai of Chinese Taipei 21-18, 21-15 in the final.

Saina's father Harvir Singh, a scientist, was on cloud nine. “This is a special performance,” he said at his residence in Hyderabad.

Without doubt, the Singapore Open triumph was another moment of crowning glory for Saina. The 20-year-old Indian's victory over Tzu Ying Tai, a qualifier, in the final was another reminder of her growing stature in the big league of world badminton. “The huge mental block that I used to have in the past when I took on the Chinese players is no more there. But this does not mean I am over-confident now,” said Saina.

The Indian ace, no doubt, was up against an unseeded player and many even predicted an easy outing for her. But the fact that Saina had to overcome the surprise element — the 16-year-old Tzu Ying Tai initially rattled the Indian with her impressive range of strokes — with the crowd lustily cheering her is another story. As Saina later remarked, what was really satisfying about her performance in the Singapore Open was her ability to come back from virtually hopeless situations.

Saina explained: “It happened in three matches, including the semifinal against world champion Lu Lan (whom she beat 8-21, 21-17, 21-8) and the final. I kept telling myself to stay cool and not make any unforced errors.

“Definitely, my confidence level is high now. Honestly, at the start of the Singapore Open I was not expecting to reach the final, for I had to face two very tough Chinese players en route. Beating them on way to the final is something that should really help me in the days to come,” Saina said.

According to Saina World rankings do not bother her. “I may improve a few places in that respect after this win, but right now, I want to keep winning.

“This will automatically mean that I will be ranked higher. Importantly, I want to keep improving with each tournament. That is the best way to realise my ultimate goal of winning an Olympic gold at the 2012 London Games,” she said.