In seventh clash, Saina hits Yihan jinx for a six
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Yihan Wang denied Saina Nehwal the pleasure of celebrating a full-fledged victory, as the Chinese world No.1 limped off the court wincing in pain, clutching at her knee. But the Indian World No 4 had done enough to win herself a commanding advantage at 21-12, 12-7 in her semifinal of the Denmark Open Super Series, blunting memories of the Olympic semifinal which had been decidedly one-sided, and pushed her out of gold medal contention.
The semifinal in London had been a forgettable affair where Nehwal would be the first to admit she was overpowered by the tall and aggressive Chinese, against who the Indian's never won. Two months on, no one would grudge Nehwal this well-fought entry into the final in her first competitive event post the break after the bronze medal, despite her rival's retirement. Yihan was well and truly outwitted in the grudge match
Nehwal's nicked a few games off the top-ranked Chinese in the past, but never managed to go the distance, with Yihan always hitting the top gears in deciders. On Saturday though, supported by a favourable crowd, the 22-year-old Hyderabadi was a decidedly different player, taking charge after briefly falling back 0-5.
The bronze-medallist has been chipping away at Yihan's game, but on Saturday managed to sustain the confident onslaught as she looked fluid in her defence. The Chinese girl's knee played up in the second, but Nehwal had built up a momentum with some smart placements as she made Yihan, a lanky awkward mover, chase the lateral corners of the court.
Coach P Gopichand was satisfied with his ward's seamless comeback, lauding her better mental framework when taking on Yihan Wang, a known nemesis. "Compared to the Olympics, it was better thinking from Saina and she really made Yihan move all round the court. She looked in better control of the game and was dominant, which is the way to go against Yihan," he said.
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