Saina Nehwal says that winning the Hong Kong Open title is a very, very special feeling. “No doubt, this is my fourth Super Series title overall. But, I will cherish this victory for a long time because this was one of the toughest events I had ever played in. And more so, because of the level of players whom I beat before winning the event,” she remarked immediately after scripting another moment of glory in her career.
“I was very disappointed with my quarterfinal loss in the recent Guangzhou Asian Games. That was one gold I was desperate to win. But things fell apart in that contest against Hong Kong's Pui Yin Pip,” Saina recalls.
“So against this backdrop, this Hong Kong Open was a huge challenge. I wanted to remind my critics that I have come thus far by the dint of my performances.”
“I remember some people trying to play down my Indonesian Open Super Series victory the last time, saying that many top Chinese players had skipped it,” she pointed out.
“It hurts when someone tried to make light of a Super Series title win. But, now I can be proud of this achievement given the fact that I exacted revenge against Pip and also Wang (to whom she had lost in the quarterfinal of the World Championship),” Saina said.
Thanks Gopi Chand
“I must thank my parents and my coach Gopi Sir for the support when I was down after the Asian Games loss. They just kept reminding that it was one of those phases which everyone goes through,” she recalled.
“The Chinese are no more invincible. All that you have to do is to prepare well, work hard and come up with the right game on the given day. That's exactly what I did today,” the champion pointed out.
Referring to the absorbing final, the 20-year-old Indian shuttler said she was not dispirited after losing the first game. “Having played for so long at the highest level, I was just waiting for things to come my way. And finally my strokes came good in the second game,” Saina said.
“Once I won the second game, I was certainly more confident and in a position to exert pressure. I was aware that Wang will not make things easy for she is such a good all-round player,” Saina pointed out.
“Then surging ahead after 16-all, was a big psychological advantage for me. Suddenly, I was closer to the title. This made me more intense despite the controversial baseline call which went in favour of my opponent (Wang led 14-13),” the champion recounted.
“These line-calls can be disappointing but if we focus too much on them, there is the danger of letting our game drift apart. So, I just told myself — keep fighting.”
“Thank God, those three strokes — a smash, net-dribble and the drop — came good in crunch time to help me take a 19-16 lead,” Saina said.
“I am really delighted with the end-result. I hope to keep improving with each event and my ultimate dream remains to win a gold in the 2012 Olympics,” Saina said.
Pullela Gopi Chand, chief national coach and Saina's mentor, rated this Hong Kong Open win as yet one more reminder of her ability to come back strongly.
“Hats off to Saina for the way she fought back every time. Such an absorbing final could have gone either way,” he said.
“What clinched the issue for Saina today was her ability to come up with the right strokes at the right time as there was very little to choose between the two,” Gopi remarked.