Birmingham: Saina Nehwal became the first Indian in 14 years to reach the final of the All England Open Badminton Championships by virtue of a straight games win over China’s Sun Yu here on Saturday.
The third seed became the first Indian woman to enter the summit clash of the prestigious $500,000 tournament by defeating the tall Chinese 21-13, 21-13 in 50 minutes at the Barclaycard Arena, taking a 2-1 lead in career meetings.
Only two Indians — Pullela Gopichand (2001) and Prakash Padukone (1980) — have won the tournament till date.
World No.3 Saina started poorly as her Chinese opponent took a 7-2 lead in the opening game. However, the Indian clawed back to level the game at 11-all and used her experience to easily advance to a 16-13 lead.
From there, the Olympic bronze medallist won the next five points to clinch the game and take the lead in the match.
Sun came back strongly in the second game as the duo went neck-and-neck till 12-all. However, while trying to hit a smash, the Chinese World No.18 appeared to have injured her ankle.
She took a small break but had to rejoin soon and never looked the same. The 24-year-old Saina, taking advantage, upped the ante to win the next seven points. With Sun’s smash going wide, Saina won on her first matchpoint to enter her maiden All England final.
In the summit clash on Sunday, the Hyderabadi will take on the winner of the match between Spain’s Carolina Marin and Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying.