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Saina outshines Sindhu, emerges the golden girl

Women's singles gold medallist Saina Nehwal of India poses with her medal and Borobi plush doll.   | Photo Credit: REUTERS

Saina Nehwal won a second Commonwealth Games women’s singles title in style at the Carrara Sports arena here on Sunday.

The former World No. 1 displayed sheer determination and was aggressive all through as she put to shade the challenge from compatriot and current World No. 3 P.V. Sindhu at 21-18, 23-21 in 56 minutes to grab the gold medal, a feat she first achieved in New Delhi 2010.

However, K. Srikanth could not celebrate his ascent to World No. 1 ranking with a gold medal as he had to be content with the silver after going down to the legendary Lee Chong Wei 19-21, 21-14, 21-4.

Early lead

Saina took to an early lead and built upon it to outfox her rival. The first set saw Saina take a 9-4 lead, paralysing Sindhu at the net and coming up with deafening smashes. It was soon 20-14 and though Sindhu showed signs of revival, she couldn’t salvage the set.

In the second, Sindhu was her usual self and even threatened to take the match into the decider. Sindhu was ahead for most part, but Saina never allowed her to widen the gap before levelling at 20-all.

A tired Saina hung on bravely, overcoming Sindhu who saved one match-point before returning a smash wide. Saina instantly threw her hands up in the air in exultation.

“I will really put this along with my Olympic medal and my World No. 1 ranking. It’s a very emotional moment. I have been waiting for that one great victory after the disappointing loss in Rio 2016 where I had to retire because of my injury and had to go through surgery on my right knee,” said Saina.

On the other hand, Sindhu was happy that it was an all-India final, “The prospect itself was exciting and it is nice that it came true. The second was anyone’s set. I thought I could win it, but it was not to be. However, it is a good game overall and I am happy I tried my best.”

Srikanth began with a sequence of unforced errors and was down 0-5 before rallying his way ahead to eventually take the first set at 21-19. But the Indian was unable to keep up the momentum as he committed silly mistakes to go down without much fight.

Reflecting on the match, the Indian said: “When you are playing against such a great player, you have to be at your best, throughout the match. I started well by taking the first set but I made too many mistakes in my defence in the second and third. I gave him that early lead which I should have avoided.”

Satwik-Chirag bag silver

It was also a silvery finish for Satwik Rankireddy and Chirag Chandrasekhar Shetty in the men’s doubles, as they lost to England’s Marcus Ellis and Chris Langridge 21-13, 21-16.

Satwik, in partnership with Ashwini Ponnappa, had lost the mixed doubles bronze medal match on Saturday to Malaysia’s Chan Peng Soon and Guo Liu Ying 21-19, 21-19, and not as reported in these columns on Sunday.

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Printable version | Dec 4, 2020 11:45:02 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/aggressive-saina-clinches-womens-singles-gold-in-cwg/article23545981.ece

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