Saina fights back to win India Open Grand Prix title

Top seed Saina Nehwal bounced back in style to beat Malaysia’s Mew Choo Wong 20-22, 21-14, 21-12 in the women’s final of the Yonex-Sunrise India Open Grand Prix badminton tournament here Sunday.

Chennai: Top seed Saina Nehwal, looking a tad rusty following a long break, bounced back in style to beat Malaysia’s Mew Choo Wong 20-22, 21-14, 21-12 in the women’s final of the Yonex-Sunrise India Open Grand Prix badminton tournament here Sunday.

World No.6 Saina’s victory compensated for the disappointing show by seventh seeded RMV Gurusaidutt who went down 13-21, 18-21, to unheralded Indonesian Yunus Alamsyah in the men’s singles final, with the visitor clinching his first major international title.

Both the singles winners picked up 7,000 points that should see them move up the world rankings.

Saina, playing her first tournament in two months, was rather patchy as she blew a 20-18 lead in the first game, but kept her nerves to take the next two games, capitalising on a desperate Mew’s errors.

It was not the best of matches and the conditions inside the hall were tricky. The raucous crowd that kept up a din even when a rally was in progress, irritating flies, and the sideways air drift due to air-conditioning, put a premium on concentration and judgement.

However, Saina took these irritants in her stride and after the initial tentative approach, changed her stance in the second game when she turned aggressive and maintained the momentum in the decider when she opened up a 10-point lead early on to seal the match.

“I was nervous at the start and committed too many errors. In the normal course, I should have won in two games, but this being my first tournament in two months, I was nervous. In the second and third games, I played aggressively,” said Saina after the 56-minute match.

“I am happy winning the tournament and that too at home, and yes, it’s a good preparation for the two Super Series events (Singapore and Indonesia) I am participating in this month. In fact, I am playing Mew in the first round at Singapore!” she added.

On her part, Mew admitted that Saina was just too good for her. “I have played her before and I tried my best, but today, she was too good for me, especially in the second and third games,” Mew, ranked No.22, said through an interpreter.

In contrast, Gurusaidutt hardly got going against the highly defensive Alamsyah, who benefitted largely on the mistakes committed by the 20-year old Indian rather than doing anything out of the ordinary.

Undoubtedly, Alamsyah is one of the better retrievers around, but there is little else in his game besides a fairly sharp smash that surprisingly he uses sparingly. Under the circumstances, Gurusaidutt needed to be patient and await a clear opening before going for the kill, something he failed to.

“I was anxious to finish off the rallies quickly and made mistakes. I will now have to work harder on my game and fitness to reach the next level,” said Gurusaidutt who is currently ranked 66 as against 125 of the Indonesian, who Saturday night took out top seeded Indian Chetan Anand.

Quite the best thing about Alamsyah was his creativity at the net, marked by wristy dribbles some of which sent Gurusaidutt the wrong way. The Indian would have been better off to keep Alamsyah in the backcourt rather than match him at the net.

In both the games, the 23-year old Alamsyah took early leads and then kept Gurusaidutt, playing in his maiden international final, under pressure that eventually cracked his defence wide open.


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