Odense (Denmark): Olympic bronze-medallist shuttler Saina Nehwal fought through a troubling knee to clinch her fourth title of the year by lifting the Denmark Open Super Series Premier trophy with a dominating win in the final on Sunday.
The 22-year-old Saina, who was competing in her first tournament after the London Games, won 21-17, 21-8 in 35 minutes to notch up her second Super Series Premier title which fetched her $30,000 from a total purse of $400,000.
“I thank Denmark and the Indian fans here for supporting me. I never expected to win this tournament,” an elated Saina said after the win which took her overall lead against Schenk to 6-3.
The match began a few minutes past the scheduled time as a false fire alarm went off at the venue.
Both players waited at their respective ends of the court with Schenk seemingly restless, even as the Indian stood next to the umpire with a confident smile on her face.
Playing in her fourth final of the year, Saina made a resounding start reeling off four straight points with a mix of her trademark crosscourt smashes to which Schenk had no answer.
“There were a lot of things which I did after Olympics which made me fresh but every tournament is tough. My right knee was not really in perfect shape but I thank god for giving me the energy to win the title,” said Saina who had beaten world number one Wang Yihan in the semifinals.
Saina was ahead 8-2 just three minutes into the match, which included five smash winners.
But Schenk clawed her way back to make it 9-9 with Saina being guilty of being a shade slow in her returns.
Schenk’s ploy was to draw Saina close to the net to neutralise her trademark power-game and it worked as the German grabbed a 10-9 lead.
The third seeded Indian, however, relied on her fine baseline game to be 15-12 ahead. She also began to outfox Schenk at the net.
To her credit, the world number seven Schenk, seeded sixth in the tournament, showed a lot of commitment in retrieving whatever Saina threw at her in the engaging rallies.
The gap was not too huge between the two players but Saina took the early advantage as her ninth smash winner fetched her the opening game in 19 minutes.
In the second game, fortunes fluctuated as Schenk also improved her baseline game. Saina was still ahead 11-7 at the break but was guilty of committing quite a few errors.
But the Indian got her act together after wiping off the sweat and even though Schenk tested her in rallies with her fighting spirit. The German was, in fact, left exasperated as she struggled to get a grip of the pace of the game.
Leading 20-8, Saina won it rather easy as Schenk did not even return the Indian’s serve on the championship point. The victory was sweet revenge for Saina who had lost in straight games to Schenk last year.
The triumph marked another high for the Indian shuttle queen who had successfully defended her Swiss Open title by defeating world number two Wang Shixian of China a day after she turned 22 in March.
In June, Saina lifted the Thailand Open Grand Prix Gold title before winning the Indonesia Open Super Series Premier by defeating world number three Li Xuerui of China. It was her third Indonesia Open title. PTI