V.V. Subrahmanyam

HYDERABAD: Harvir Singh, Saina Nehwal’s father could not have got a better gift from his daughter on this Father’s Day.

The champion became the first-ever woman shuttler from India to win a Super Series title.

“I am what I am today because of my parents, especially my father. Call it coincidence or anything else, this victory, which I consider the biggest of my career, is sweeter as it came on Father’s Day. I could not speak to my dad properly but hopefully, I will talk to him for a while tonight to share my moment of joy,” Saina remarked.

It took 49 minutes for Saina to realise her dream. “I have been longing to win this Super Series title ever since my quarterfinal performance in the 2008 Beijing Olympics,” a delighted Saina told The Hindu after her victory.

“Honestly, when the event got off, I was not thinking about the title, taking it match by match. But it is a great feeling to beat two top Chinese players on way to the title. It should make me a better player when I face them next time around,” she said.

Significant win

“Winning the Philippines Open was certainly special. But this is even more significant considering that I was going through a title-drought of late. And, winning the final against the World No. 3 in 49 minutes, despite losing the first game, was something I will never forget,” Saina said.

“Having lost to Wang in the Singapore Super Series earlier I did not chalk out any special strategy. Essentially, I had decided to play to my strengths in the second and third games and this worked beautifully. In fact, the scoreline in the third game was a big surprise to me also. I felt as if I was in full form. Also, the entire crowd was supporting me,” she said.

For Gopi Sir

“I dedicate this victory to Gopi Sir and my parents for their cooperation right through my career. Winning tournaments at this level is not easy. That is why I cannot say that I will repeat my performance in the Malaysian Open,” she added. Her next target is to break into the top five in the world, she stated confidently.

Coach Gopi is elated at his ward’s impressive performance. “I could not have asked for more. It was a stunning achievement considering that she was down after the first game.

“This victory is another pointer that Saina has moved into the big league. The way she kept her cool under pressure in the second and third games was the most heartening feature of her win,” he explained.

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