Saina eyes 2nd Aus Open title as she cruises into final

RSTV Bureau
File Photo ( PTI )

File Photo of Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal ( PTI )

Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal is just one step away from winning her second Australian Open Super Series title. She cruised into the final of the series after defeating World No. 2 Yihan Wang of China in the women’s singles semifinal in Sydney on Saturday.

Nehwal’s win comes as a big boost ahead of her Rio campaign as she convincingly defeated Yihan 21-8 21-12 in a match that lasted just over 30 minutes. Yihan was fourth seeded and 2011 world champion and 2012 Olympic silver medallist.

In the finals scheduled on Sunday, Nehwal is up against World No. 12 Sun Yu of China, who defeated third seed and compatriot Li Xuerui in the other semifinal.

Nehwal, who is a bronze medallist at the London Olympics, had won the Australian Open in 2014 and has a a 5-1 head-to-head record against Sun. However, Sun had defeated Nehwal in the 2013 China Open clash.

In the semifinal, Saina was at her dominating best in the opening game. She executed her plans perfectly and zoomed to a 15-6 lead against Yihan. The Hyderabad girl came up with some slices and smashes to destabilise her opponent.

In the second game, Saina did not allow the intensity to slip and rode on Yihan’s inconsistent strokes. Once again she grabbed a 11-4 lead just before half time.

After the break, Saina continued playing her own game. She changed the pace and came up with a wide variety of strokes to make Yihan run across the court. Her attacking strokes gave her results as Saina quickly got herself to the match point.

Meanwhile, in men’s singles, Kidambi Srikanth’s fight ended with a disappointing 20-22 13-21 loss against Denmark’s Hans-Kristian Vittinghus in a 43-minute semifinal clash.

(With inputs from PTI)