Saina Nehwal deservingly claimed the women’s singles gold medal at the Commonwealth Games 2018 where she outwitted PV Sindhu in an all-India final on the final day of the tournament. With the feat, Saina becomes the only shuttler to have won two singles gold at CWG.
In a highly intense final that lasted an hour, Saina emerged as the better player of the two as she used her experience to win the gold-medal match 21-18, 23-21 in one hour. The thrilling final began on an equal note with both the shuttlers not letting the other take a lead of more than a point. While Saina found hard to deal with Sindhu’s smashes, Sindhu was having difficulty with Saina’s strokes placement.
However, the London Olympics bronze-medallist’s sharp instincts helped her take 9-4 lead in an exhilarating contest. Even though Sindhu returned after mid-game interval to make a comeback, she only managed to bridge the gap a little but her effort was not enough to down the 28-year old, who claimed the first game in 23 minutes.
The second game saw longer rallies and tougher fights and a better command on smashes by both the ace shuttlers. Sindhu took 9-7 lead at the start of the second game and managed to maintain the lead till after the break. However, the 22-year old, who has a history of unfortunate finals, could not match up to Saina’s aggression. After the game was level at 19-19, a see-saw battle began between the two Indians with rallies going as long as 68 seconds.
Both the players refused to give up till the very end as the game stood level at 21-21. It was a wide stroke from Sindhu that won Saina the match point as the Glasgow gold medallist screamed in celebration.
Calling it a special win, Saina said after the medal ceremony, “I really term it as next to my Olympic medal and my world No.1 ranking. So I would keep it somewhere there. It’s a gift to my father and my mother, my country. It’s a very emotional moment for me after the disappointing loss in Rio due to injury.”
On the thrilling yet exhausting final match, Saina said, “It was a neck to neck game for me, it was even tougher because I have
been playing for the last 10-12 days. She is tall, she has longer legs and covers the court better than me, I have to run here and there,” Saina said of her rival and teammate. I lost five kgs in the last few months, that helps you move faster,” she added.
Speaking on her on-court rivalry with Sindhu, the gold-medal winner said, “You just have to play your game, it’s a healthy rivalry, people enjoy it, no doubt we are under tremendous pressure. But I am happy to be pulling these off. It’s not easy to play against someone who is ranked No.3 in the world now.”
Saina came to Sindhu’s rescue when asked about another final loss and said, “It happens in tough situations, it has happened with me as well. You can’t write like that about any player. Today, I fought well. I didn’t attack much because my stamina was finishing. I just wanted to finish off rallies. She was doing very well in rallies too.”