Ace shuttler Saina Nehwal pulled off a thrilling victory over world number eight Zhou Mi as Indian women defeated formidable Hong Kong in their Uber Cup (Asia Zone) opener in Nakornratchasima, Thailand on Monday.

World number seven Saina bounced back from a game down to edge past Zhou 14-21, 21-10, 23-21 in a 50-minute clash to give India a flying start in the prestigious team event.

Hong Kong pulled one back in the second singles when Yip Pui Yin beat Sayali Gokhale 21-13, 21-11.

National champion Trupti Murgunde, however, put India ahead once again as she saw off Chan Tsz Ka 21-18, 21-16 in just 27 minutes.

India’s best doubles player Jwala Gutta then teamed up with Ashwini Ponnappa to seal the tie for India as the duo beat Zhou Mi and Tse Ying Suet 21-13, 21-16 in a 21-minute match.

In the fifth match, Aparna Balan and Shruti Kurian went down to Chau Hoi Wah and Chan Tsz Ka 9-21, 13-21 but it didn’t have any bearing on the result as India emerged victorious by a 3-2 margin.

Moments after the match, Saina said it was an unexpected win as Hong Kong are very strong.

“It was an unexpected win but I am very happy we pulled it off. Everyone raised their game and contributed and it was a very important win overall,” Saina said.

Asked about her win over Zhou Mi, whom she considers as one of her main rivals, the 20-year-old Saina said she just tried to pick on her rival’s weakness.

“She is a very experienced player, strong at the back and has good parallel shots but she was weak in the net. In the second and third game I made her run a lot and she became exhausted and started attacking.

“My defence was strong which frustrated her and she started hitting outside,” the Hyderabadi said.

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