Saina Nehwal won a second Commonwealth Games women’s singles title any way you like at the Carrara Sports arena here on Sunday.
The former World No. 1 displayed sheer determination and was aggressive during as she put to shade the challenge from compatriot and current World No. 3 P.V. Sindhu at 21-18, 23-21 in 56 minutes to grab the gold medal, a feat she first achieved in New Delhi 2010.
However, K. Srikanth couldn’t celebrate his ascent to World No. 1 ranking with a gold medal as he had to be content with the silver after heading down to the legendary Lee Chong Wei 19-21, 21-14, 21-4.
Saina took to an earlier lead and built upon it to outfox her rival. The initial set saw Saina take a 9-4 lead, paralysing Sindhu at the internet and picking out deafening smashes. It was soon 20-14 and though Sindhu showed signs of revival, she couldn’t salvage the set.
In the 2nd, Sindhu was her usual self and even threatened to take the match to the decider. Sindhu was ahead for some part, but Saina never allowed her to widen the gap before levelling at 20-all.
A tired Saina hung on bravely, overcoming Sindhu who saved one match-point before returning a smash wide. Saina instantly threw her hands up in the air in exultation.
“I will really put this alongside my Olympic medal and my World No. 1 ranking. It’s a very emotional moment. I have now been waiting for that one great victory after the disappointing loss in Rio 2016 where I’d to retire due to my injury and had to proceed through surgery on my right knee,” said Saina.
On the other hand, Sindhu was happy so it was an all-India final, “The outlook itself was exciting and it’s nice so it came true. The second was anyone’s set. I believed I possibly could win it, however it was not to be. However, it is a great game overall and I’m happy I tried my best.”
Srikanth began with a series of unforced errors and was down 0-5 before rallying his way ahead to eventually take the first set at 21-19. But the Indian was unable to keep up the momentum as he committed silly mistakes to drop without much fight.
Reflecting on the match, the Indian said: “When you’re playing against this kind of great player, you need to be at your best, throughout the match. I began well by taking the first set but I made way too many mistakes within my defence in the 2nd and third. I gave him that early lead which I should have avoided.”
Satwik-Chirag bag silver
It was also a silvery finish for Satwik Rankireddy and Chirag Chandrasekhar Shetty in the men’s doubles, while they lost to England’s Marcus Ellis and Chris Langridge 21-13, 21-16.
Satwik, in partnership with Ashwini Ponnappa, had lost the mixed doubles bronze medal match on Saturday to Malaysia’s Chan Peng Soon and Guo Liu Ying 21-19, 21-19, and much less reported in these columns on Sunday.