Saina Nehwal came up with a near flawless performance to notch up an impressive 21-17, 21-8 win over Juliane Schenk of Germany in the 35-minute final of the Denmark Super Series badminton championship on Sunday night.
The World No. 4 from India was in irresistible form against an opponent who threatened to pose much bigger challenge than many of the opponents lined up in this event against Saina did to level the scores nine-all 10-all at one stage.
But, after a fairly decent start when the 29-year-old Schenk gave a few tough moments, the Indian wriggled out of a possible pressure to come back a clear winner with her all-court mastery. The smashes were just perfect and the net game was again spot on.
Saina, playing in her maiden tournament after her bronze-medal winning performance in the 2012 London Olympics, ensured that her return to the big league ended on a triumphant note.
Playing without the chief national coach and her mentor Pullela Gopi Chand, the 22-year-old Hyderabadi was just too good for the German opponent, winner of the World championship bronze in 2011 and who ironically finished runner-up in four events this year.
It was a brilliant display by Saina both in terms of technique and strategy. Mostly preferring to stand right in the centre of the court, she could come up with the right kind of response - to the net-dribbles and also the few times Schenk attacked the corners.
The final point of the match when Schenk did not attempt to return the serve from Saina was in a way symbolic of the total domination of the ace Indian shuttler.
On the other hand for Saina, this was her sixth Super Series title overall and second this year after the Indonesian Open win.
The win also made Saina richer by $30,000 and the runner-up Schenk had to be content with $ 15,000.
Later, Saina Nehwal said that she never expected to win this event and thanked God for keeping herself fit despite the niggle in the right knee. “I must thank the fans – both Indian and the Danish – for giving me the energy,” she added.
“Yes, I had to attend lot of felicitations after the Olympics and did many things off-court which may also have made me look fit. I am happy with the end-result on my comeback tournament,” Saina remarked.
Gopi Chand in his reaction felt it was a very creditable win considering the way she played right through the event. “The big difference I see in Saina’s game is she seems to be much more calmer this time around, the smashes were sharp and the fitness too was amazing,” he commented.
“Winning Denmark Super Series is a big achievement given the fact that the top guns of women’s circuit were there and more importantly, Saina looked ominous against World No. 1 Wang Yihan in the semi-final before unfortunately the Chinese girl had to pull out because of an injured right knee,” Gopi felt.