Indian Badminton star Saina Nehwal was forced to dig deep to overcome unseeded Thailand teenager Pornpawee Chochuwong in straight games to clinch the women’s singles title of the Malaysia Masters Grand Prix Gold here on Sunday.
The 26 year old top seed utilised her bank of experience and her vintage never say die attitude to pull off a 22-20, 22-20 win in 46 minutes to bag her first title after making a comeback after a knee surgery she underwent in August.
Initially slow, Saina was taken to task by Pornpawee who made the best use of her delectable drop shots to run to an 11-5 lead till the two minute halfway break. After the breather, a refreshed Saina managed to pull things back. Pornpawee took the first point to stretch the lead to 12-5 but the London Olympic Bronze medallist racked up three consecutive points before the Thai reached to 13 points. Saina, with the help of four back-to-back points, reduced the margin to one.
However, few unforced errors allowed the young Thai player to sit at a 19-16 advantage. Then, Saina fought hard the way we have seen her do it so many times, and equalised at 19-point mark before nailing the first game 22-20.
The second game was also a see-saw affair: and this time Saina didn’t allow Pornpawee to disctate the pace of the game. One thing that stood out in Saina’s game was the aggression. Going for the attacking shots, she held a three-point lead at 11-8.
Pornpawee equalised at the 11-point mark and thereafter, Saina managed to pull out a 22-20 win to seal the championship. After the win, the 2015 World Championship runner-upthanked her coaches U. Vimal Kumar and Upendra Rana and physios Health Mathews and Arvind Nigam.