Ace Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal survived a scare before prevailing over unseeded Chinese Taipei’s Hsian Huan Chen in a thrilling three-game match to reach the pre-quarterfinals of World Badminton Championship on Wednesday.
The second-seed Indian beat Chen 20-22, 21-15, 21-8 in the second round of the women’s singles.
Saina was clearly not in her elements in the first game as she blew a 20-18 lead while Chen, playing controlled shots at the nets, won her way through to 22-20.
“I know I was a little tight in the first game and it normally happens when you play your first match in a World Cup,” said Saina.
“Actually, I should have won the first game after leading by a couple of points but that’s the nature of the game.”
In the second game, Saina didn’t take too many risks and cut down on the unforced errors. Her long shots were more controlled and she began dominating the mid court, an area where Chen was cutting the Indian down.
After Chen had taken a 2-0 lead in the second game, Saina slowly got herself back as the lead exchanged hands quite a few times till the Indian led at 13-12.
The Hyderabadi shuttler then slowly built up the lead to 17-13 and with a beautiful drop shot came within a point of taking the second game. An error from Chen gave Saina the game as she fist clenched let out a scream.
“At that point, I was controlling the rallies and was willing to take a few risks at the net,” Saina said. “I knew she was tiring a bit and her game wasn’t as focused as she had been in the first.”
Taking advantage of a tiring Chen who was now making too many errors, Saina raced off to a 7-0 lead in the third and deciding game. She used her drop shots to good effect and had seven drop shot winners in the decider.
At 15-2, Chen tried a late revival and won a few points to cut the lead but Saina had her measure up by then and closed off the decider at 21-8.
“It’s not something new that I am facing,” said Nehwal.
“I have played her twice and once played a closer three game match in the 2009 Malaysia super series and only recently I beat her in straight games in the Uber Cup.”
Asked if she was afraid of losing the match at any stage, Saina smiled and replied, “I never think of losing. That thought never comes to me. I know every match will be tough and I just have to play and strategise according to the situation.”