Saina Nehwal was crowned champion of the Indonesia Masters in Jakarta after her opponent Carolina Marin withdrew the match with an injury. After the match, the Indian shuttler extended her sympathies for the Spanish international and celebrations ensued.
Nehwal took to social media to thank her husband and former Indian shuttler Parupalli Kashyap.
“Would like to thank Parupalli Kashyap for getting me back to some winning ways and working really hard with me for last 5 months to improve my game. Being very sick with fever the entire tournament #indonesiamasterssuper500 he still managed to come and help me .. would also like to thank @mohammed.siyadath.ullah for being there n supporting me throughout the tournament also special thank u to @arvind_sportsphysio for keeping my body stable in the tournament. Finally a big thank you to Gopi sir too who’s always there behind the scenes”, she posted on her official instagram handle.
Marin, three-time World Champion and reigning Olympic champion, qualified for the finals after eliminating India’s PV Sindhu in the quarters and China’s Chen Yufei in the semifinal by the scoreline of 17-21, 21-11, 23-21. Eighth-seeded Saina defeated China’s He Bingjiao 18-21, 21-12, 21-18 in a 58-minute affair to book the finals berth. In the tournament, Nehwal performed with grit; she came from behind in the last two matches after losing in her first outing.
The Hyderabad-based shuttler displayed a performance in the year of 2018, winning gold at the Commonwealth Games, a bronze at the Asian Games and had reached the summit clash of Denmark open, Syed Modi International and Indonesia Masters in 2018.
“It is an important year for all of us. It was not good to see at all. It is painful. I have been getting injured a lot in the last few years and to see something like this on the court is really painful,” said Saina, who had suffered a career-threatening knee injury at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
“I know how it is mentally because when I got that knee injury at the Olympics. I was very upset. I was crying like anything. So I know how difficult it is for a player to go through such kind of injuries but the sport is like that, it is cruel.”
It is a creditable performance for the Indian, who had suffered a shin injury late last year. “I took a break the whole of December. I played these events to see how good I am and I was surprised with myself. January 1 was my first match (PBL) against Sindhu after the injury. I didn’t do any kind of training. Doctors asked me not to do any training,” Saina said.
“But I am not happy with the way I got it today. Of course I am happy that I could reach the finals, beating difficult opponents like He Bingjiao. Both the tournaments, I am very happy with my performance. It is great to beat (Nozomi) Okuhara, Binjiao, Dinar (Dyah Ayustine).
“In the finals, of course, Carolina had the upper hand and I wanted to fight and see how the match goes but it was unfortunate what happened,” added the 28-year-old from Hyderabad.
Olympic champion Marin was favourite to win the title. Coming into this match, she led 6-5 in her head-to-head record against Saina, an opponent she beat last week at the Malaysia Masters semifinal in Kuala Lumpur.
The fast-moving Spaniard made a rampaging start to take the first two points before Saina started to engage her in rallies and caught the Spaniard at the net to log her first point.
But the Indian missed the backline a couple of times and also found the net to allow Marin lead 6-2 at the Istora Senayan.
(With PTI Inputs)