Sydney: India’s badminton star Saina Nehwal shrugged off dropping the first set against World No. 12 Sun Yu of China on Sunday before hitting back to win 11-21, 21-14, 21-19 to claim her second Australian Open title in Sydney.
In the submit final clash that lasted an hour and 11 minutes, the 26-year-old Nehwal got off to a shaky start when her Chinese opponent was playing with a fast-paced game added to her strong defence to hunt for shuttlecocks in every corners of the court, Nehwal eventually lost the first set 11-21.
After changing sides, the London Olympics bronze medalist Saina Nehwal, who had beaten two world champions — Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon (2013) and China’s Yihan Wang (2011) in the quarterfinals and semifinals en route to the final, regrouped quickly and stormed back to seal the second set 21-14 after Sun hit the net at her last shot.
Nehwal and Sun went neck and neck in the decider, Sun saved two points to narrow the gap with 19-20. However, Nehwal threw her arms in the air for celebration when Sun’s return found the net.
Nehwal has previously won the Australian Open in 2014. Nevertheless, the Indian shuttler has been struggling with form since winning her 2015 Indian Open Superseries title. The Australian Open title came just in time as a huge confidence boost for her ahead of the Rio Olympics.
In an all-Chinese mixed doubles final, China’s No. 8 seeds Lu Kai/Huang Yaqiong defeated Zheng Siwei and Chen Qingchen 21-18, 21-14 to lift the title.
Women’s doubles No. 2 seeds Nitya Krishinda Maheswari and Greysia Polii failed to clinch the Australian Open title after they were shocked by unseeded Chinese pair Chen QingChen and Bao Yixin 21-13, 17-21.