New Delhi: India's 2016 Rio Olympics medal hope, Saina Nehwal gave herself a huge confidence booster ahead of the quadrennial mega event by capturing the Australian Open Super Series title on Sunday, in Sydney.
The 26-year-old from Hyderabad fought back from a game down to beat China's Sun Yu in a thriller to win the title clash 11-21, 21-14, 21-19 in front of a capacity Sydney Olympic Park crowd.
This is Nehwal's first title of the year, and also her second Aus Open title, having clinched it in 2014 as well. Her last title was at the India Super Series in New Delhi in last year. She has now won ten Super Series titles, including three Premier crowns.
The final match lasted one hour and 11 minute as the World No. 12 Sun played to Nehwal's rhythm, and by giving no hint of her poor head-to-head record against the higher ranked Indian player.
Nehwal had a 5-1 head-to-head record against Sun, who had shocked the Indian once at the 2013 China Open.
The Chinese player won the first game with relative ease, in just 18 minutes, forcing Nehwal to dig deep to force a three-game final.
The London Olympics bronze medallist, who had beaten two world champions — Thailand's Ratchanok Intanon (2013) and China's Yihan Wang (2011) in the quarterfinals and semifinals respectively — then played possibly her two best games in recent times to win the title.
The second game started in similar fashion with both the players going neck to neck in points. But the Indian star managed to reduce her errors and won a series of points in the final stretch to give her chances alive.
With title on the line, the final game went all the way. The 22-year-old Chinese player matched Nehwal's guile. But it was the experience of 7th seeded Nehwal which proved the difference.