Saina raises Olympic medal hopes, lifts Indonesia Open trophy
Raising hopes for a medal in next month's London Olympics, Indian badminton ace Saina Nehwal today won the Indonesia Open Super Series title after beating world number three Xuerui Li of China in a hard-fought summit clash here.
The fifth-seeded Indian, who had won the Thailand Open last week, defeated Li 13-21 22-20 21-19 in an hour and four minutes to lift her third title of the year -- the first being the Swiss Open.
Today's title triumph -- her third of the same tournament -- also served a warning to the formidable Chinese shuttlers ahead of the Olympics as Saina is expected to face stiff challenge from them in her quest for a medal in the London Games.
Saina, 22, is expected to take a break to recharge herself for the gruelling contest ahead of the July 27 to August 12 mega sporting event.
"It was a really, really tough and I love the crowd here. It's really nice here. Whenever I enter the court, I feel like a champion here," said Saina, who had earlier clinched this title in 2009 and 2010 and was a runner-up last year.
It was a battle of attrition for Saina against an opponent to whom she had lost four times and won just once -- that too way back in 2010 -- previously.
"It is a very good victory for Saina. It was a tricky situation because we had a very tough schedule. There were many tight matches and it has been a very tough week and what was good is that she kept pushing," national coach Pullela Gopichand told said from Jakarta.
"The mental tenacity that she showed all through the last two weeks is commendable because even when she lost a game, she was mentally stubborn," he said.
The start was ominous for Saina as she conceded four successive points. The two players seemed engaged in a battle of smashes and were at par with each other when it came to baseline rallies.
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