Saina Nehwal ended her long title drought in Superseries events with a hard-fought win over China's Sun Yu 11-21, 21-14, 21-19 at the Australian Open in Sydney.
The match that lasted lasted 1 hour and 10 minutes gives Saina her BWF Superseries first title in nearly 14 months.
#Breaking Saina Nehwal wins the Australian Open by defeating Sun Yu 11-21, 21-14, 21-19
Her first title of 2016. pic.twitter.com/hyViGYXQQC— ESPN India (@ESPNIndia) June 12, 2016
Saina 💪June 12, 2016
This win will give India's medal hopes in Rio a big boost as Saina defeated nemesis Ratchanok Intanon and World No. 2 Wang Yihan -- both strong favourites in Rio -- enroute to her title in Sydney.
Well done @NSaina. Joy on a Sunday afternoon.— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) June 12, 2016
Saina struggled to get her radar right in the first game as a series of errors gave her Chinese rival an easy first game. After starting the second game on level pegging, Saina began controlling the rallies and dictated the pace of the game, winning it 21-14.
World No. 12 Sun Yu of China, who defeated third seed and compatriot Li Xuerui in the other semifinal, fought valiantly but the higher-ranked Indian star had just enough in the tank to go past the finish line.
The girl from Hyderabad, who had also won the Australian Open in 2014, now has a 6-1 head-to-head record against Sun, who had upstaged the Indian once at the 2013 China Open.
This Australian Open win will also see Saina move back into the top three* of the
World Rankings of the Superseries rankings for 2016, after a recent slump in form.
With just over 50 days to go, Saina Nehwal is hitting form at the right time for Rio Olympics!
(*Editor's note: The official world rankings will be released only on Thursday. The win will move her at least to World No. 6 according to reports.)