Indian badminton ace Saina Nehwal received a huge boost ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympics after she defeated China’s Sun Yu in a thrilling three-game final of the Australian Super Series at Sydney on Sunday.
The 26-year-old Hyderabad ace eked out an 11-21 21-14 21-19 win over the World No. 12 Sun in the summit clash that lasted an hour and 11 minutes.
Saina, who had defeated two former world champions — Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon (2013) and China’s Yihan Wang (2011) in the quarterfinals and semifinals respectively – thus clinched her first title of the season and also took home a cheque of USD 56,250.
This is Saina’s second Australian Open victory, having previously won the title in 2014.
It also brought to end a long title drought for Saina, whose previous win was at the India Super Series at New Delhi in 2015.
Saina was the first Indian woman shuttler to become World No.1 in April 2015 following her India Open title win.
Also she had won silver at the World Championships in August at Jakarta.
Another high for Saina was the appearance in the finals of the China Open Super Series Premier in November only for a nagging ankle injury leading to her missing a series of events before a comeback at the India Open.
She also registered a series of semifinal finishes at the India Open, Malaysia Open and Badminton Asia Championships respectively. Saina won a bronze, her second in the Asian Championships.
In June, Saina had reached the quarters of the Indonesia Open Super Series Premier, thus adding more momentum to her Rio ambitions.