Syed Modi International: Saina Nehwal Loses Women’s Singles Final
Former champion Saina Nehwal lost 18-21, 8-21 to Han Yue of China in the women’s singles final of the Syed Modi International World Tour Super 300 on Sunday, 25 November.
Saina couldn't put enough pressure on Han, a 2017 world junior championship silver medallist, losing the final in 34 minutes and settling for another runners-up finish. The London Olympic bronze medallist is yet to secure her maiden BWF title of this season.
Saina, who won a gold and a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games, had ended second best at the Indonesia Masters in January and Denmark Open in October this year.
A gritty Sameer Verma however, produced a sensational performance to defend his men's singles title, making up for the failure of his compatriots in the other finals.
In the first game, Saina recovered from an early 0-2 deficit to lead 6-5. A net error and a weak return by Saina saw Han lead 8-6.
The Indian then reeled off four points, mixing smashes with angled returns, to move to 10-8 and then grabbed a 11-9 lead when the Chinese went wide.
Han pocketed three points but Saina again unleashed a down-the-line smash to claw back at 12-12 and then lead 14-12 with the Chinese going wide twice.
Saina kept using her smashes and angled returns to good effect, leading 17-12 at one stage.
Two miscued shots from Saina helped Han make it 15-17. The Indian smashed one to the net and also hit long and failed to reach a shot at the forecourt as Han led 19-18.
Han grabbed two game points when Saina left one at the back court and claimed the bragging rights when the Indian pushed one wide.
Saina returned to the court for the second game, which saw both the shuttlers gaining points from each other's unforced errors to be tied 3-3. She struggled with her accuracy even as Han grew in confidence, reaching 10-6 when the Indian found the net and then hit wide. Another frustrated return from Saina gave Han a 11-6 advantage at the interval.
After the breather, Saina tried to match her younger opponent in the long rallies but Han produced some precise cross court smashes and returns to keep her nose ahead.
Saina paid the price of leaving the shuttle too short as Han punished them, moving to 16-8 at one stage.
Han kept hitting some quality strokes, while Saina struggled. The result was Han jumped to a 20-8 lead when Saina hit long. When the Indian again erred with her length, the Chinese sealed her maiden win.
Doubles Pairs Finish Second
Indian men's doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty and women's doubles combination of Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy lost the final of their respective events.
Commonwealth Games silver medallists Satwiksairaj and Chirag went down 11-21 20-22 to second seeds Fajar Alfian and Muhammad Rian Ardianto of Indonesia to settle for the runners-up prize in the men's doubles competition. The Indian duo squandered a 18-14 lead in the second game to lose to the world number 7 Alfian and Ardianto in a 38-minute match.
Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Ashwini and Sikki also couldn't live up to the expectations, losing 15-21 13-21 to third seeded Malaysian pair of Chow Mei Kuan and Lee Meng Yean in women's doubles final. The Indian pair had lost in the finals in the last edition as well.