London Olympic bronze medallist Saina Nehwal on Saturday scripted history by reaching the finals of the prestigious All England Badminton Championship with a straight-game victory over Sun Yu of China in the women’s singles competition in Birmingham.
The World No. 3 Indian, who reached the semifinals of the event in 2010 and 2013, defeated the unseeded Sun 21-13 21-13 in a match that lasted for 50 minutes at the Barclaycard Arena.
Saina is now just one step away from joining Indian legends Prakash Padukone (1980) and P Gopichand (2001) who have bagged the prestigious title in the past.
The 24-year-old will face the winner of the other semifinal between seventh seeded Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei and Spain’s Carolina Marin tomorrow.
After disposing her nemesis Yihan Wang of China, third seed Saina was faced with the task of taming the towering Sun, ranked World No. 18, who had seen off the likes of Nichaon Jindapon, Li Xuerui and Ratnachok Intanon over the last three days.
The Indian had come into the match with a 1-1 record against Sun, who had defeated her during the 2013 China Open but all that didn’t matter as Saina stamped her authority with her wide repertoire of stroke.
Saina, who had beaten Sun at the Australian Open in June last year, lagged 0-2 behind early on as Sun showed her intent to move to 4-1.
A couple of quick points and Sun led 6-1, but Saina soon drew her rival in long drawn battle of rallies, as she scripted her recovery to move to 8-10 before the Chinese surged ahead into the break with a slender 11-10 lead.
After the interval, Saina changed her tactics and was soon rewarded with a couple points as she stretched her lead to 16-12.
The Indian soon made it 19-13. An unforced error from Sun gave Saina the advantage of seven game points and the Hyderabadi sealed it when the Chinese hit the shuttle hard and long.
In the second game, Sun once again opened up a narrow 3-2 lead but Saina kept drawing her to the net, where she looked comfortable.