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Saina Nehwal ends title drought, wins Syed Modi

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Saina Nehwal slips to ninth in world badminton rankings
Saina Nehwal slips to ninth in world badminton rankings

Top seed Saina Nehwal prevailed over compatriot and second seed PV Sindhu 21-14, 21-17 to win the $120,000 Syed Modi International India Grand Prix Gold tournament in Lucknow on Sunday.

The home tournament provided Saina the much-needed platform to end her title drought. The Indian had not won a title in more than a year. In the last edition of the tournament  –  held in December 2012  –  Saina had pulled out of the tournament citing a knee injury when she was leading 21-17, 20-18  –  just a point away from winning the first round game against Russian Ksenia Polikarpova. In the edition before that, she had pulled out citing a bout of ‘cold and flu’ and a ‘hamstring pull’. However, this year’s tournament turned out to be far more important to her than she might have imagined.

In the men’s singles final, ninth seed Xue Song of China defeated sixth seed K Srikanth of India 16-21, 21-19, 21-13. Srikanth played well and had chances to pack up the match when he was up 19-12 in the second game after winning the first. Eventually, Song nicked the test and ran through the decider.

The women’s final lasted 40 minutes, it was Saina that dominated. Though both the players resorted to an attacking game it was Sindhu who committed too many unforced errors.

Saina made her intentions clear in the start of the first game and ran up a lead of 5-0 and then of 11-5. Though Sindhu came close at 14-12 Saina tuned up the aggression, to win the game at 21-14. In the second game, it was the other way around as Sindhu enjoyed an early lead at 5-2. The scores stood level thrice before Saina surged into the lead in the second half of the game, beginning from 11-9. Thereafter, Saina ensured a safe gap and eventually won the second game and the title 21-17.

After the match Saina revealed how much the win meant to her. “I cannot believe that I have won this title. Improvement was needed in many things and that has taken place to a great extent. I knew that it would not be easy to make a comeback. I gave my 100 per cent today and I am very happy that a good result has come out. I am glad that my movements and strokes were good. ”

Sindhu acknowledged that Saina was still the better player. “Saina is senior to me and knows how to play against me. There were simple mistakes from my side but mistakes happen in the game. Getting to the final has given me a lot of experience. I feel that I have to be mentally tougher (playing against Saina).”

The finals of all the doubles events proved to be all-Chinese affair. In the mixed doubles final Yilv Wang and Huang Yaqiong defeated Kaixiang Huang and Qingchen Chen 21-18, 21-14. In the women’s doubles finals, Qingchen Chen and Yi Fan Jia registered a 22-24, 21-19, 21-11 victory against Yu Xiaohan and Huang Yaqiong. In the men’s doubles finals, Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen beat Kaixiang Huang and Si Wi Zheng 21-17, 19-21, 22-20.

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