INDIAN badminton ace Saina Nehwal notched up her first title after a career-threatening injury by claiming the Malaysia Masters Grand Prix Gold with a hard-fought victory in the summit clash.
Up against 18-year-old Thai Pornpawee Chochuwong, Saina triumphed 22-20, 22-20 in a 46-minute clash. The 26-year-old world No 10 was squaring off against a rival ranked more than 50 places below her at 67th.
Saina was on the backfoot in the opening game when Chochuwong reeled off four consecutive points to grab the early initiative. Chochuwong maintained the advantage going forward and was placed 11-5 at the break. However, Saina narrowed the gap to make it 10-13 before drawing level at 19-19 and then saving a game point. Chochuwong could not handle the pressure thereafter as Saina drew from her experience to clinch the opening game after a 20-minute slog.
In the second game as well, Chochuwong was quicker off the blocks with a 3-0 lead but this time Saina did not leave it for too late and took the lead at 7-5.
The Hyderabadi remained in the lead, albeit slender, before blowing away four match points to help Chochuwong draw level at 20-20. But the Indian managed to get over the hiccup and wrap up the issue soon after for what would be a massive morale-booster for her.
It’s has been very tough and emotional journey, says Saina: AFTER recovering from a career-threatening knee injury, Saina Nehwal said, “In four months from knee surgery to the title it was very tough and emotional journey for me.”