CWG 2018: Aggressive Saina Nehwal clinches women's singles gold
Saina Nehwal's aggression and intensity quite literally wilted PV Sindhu as she picked up the women's singles Commonwealth Games gold medal with exhilarating triumph in the final in Gold Coast today. Saina, who led the head-to-head count 3-1 before today's match, won 21-18, 23-21 in the high-pressure game that lasted an hour. The triumph marked a remarkable end to her CWG campaign. Here's more.
Saina was the pillar of India's gold-winning campaign
Saina was the pillar of India's gold-winning campaign in the team championship earlier, playing every one of the singles matches due to Sindhu's injury. In a match that started on equal footing, Saina managed to dominate, bringing a rarely seen aggression to the court.
Saina found it hard to deal with Sindhu's smashes
The brute force of Sindhu's smashes was something that Saina found hard to deal with. On the other hand, Sindhu found it tough to adjust to the delicate placement of strokes of Saina, who took the pace off the shuttle by attacking the net. The strategy worked quite well for the London Olympics bronze-medalist, and she raced to a 9-4 lead.
Sindhu struggled to control the power of Saina's shots
As the gap widened, Saina's command on the baseline improved. The two contrasting styles of the two shuttlers made for an exhilarating contest. Saina's sharper instincts to leave the returns that landed out also stood out. Sindhu struggled to control the power she put on her shots, losing at least four points for pushing the shuttle outside and trailed 6-11 at the lemon break.
Sindhu came back strongly after the break
Sindhu came back strongly after the break and narrowed the gap a bit but the drift-factor affected her strokeplay way more than Saina, who also seemed the more pumped up of the two, grunting quite a bit after every point won.
Saina claimed the opening game 21-18 in 23 minutes
Sindhu found her bearings after Saina had taken a 20-14 lead and closed it 18-20 but Saina brought her own brute force to fore with a smash targeting Sindhu's body which was simply unreturnable. Saina claimed the opening game 21-18 in 23 minutes. The second game followed a similar tangent as Saina was a delight with her trademark angled smashes.
Saina's court coverage was impressive
Saina's court coverage was the more impressive of the two. A telling image of the opening game was when Sindhu was brought to her knees trying to return a smash that didn't really have any power in it but was just placed perfectly.
The two displayed a brilliant array of strokes
For the full house, mostly packed with the diaspora, it was a brilliant Sunday outing as the top two women of Indian badminton slugged it out, displaying an array of strokes. Sindhu led 19-16 at one stage but a 64-stroke rally to narrow it to 18-19 brought Saina right back, and she equalized at 19-19. However, Sindhu edged ahead for a 20-19 lead.
See-saw battle continued between the two
The see-saw battle continued when Sindhu hit one out to give Saina the equalizing point yet again. This time, it was Saina who got the championship point when Sindhu struck a return out.
Saina was back in lead with a cross-court smash
The lady, who looked the hungrier of the two all through, was surprisingly late in picking one up as Sindhu made it 21-21. But Saina was back in lead with a cross-court smash that Sindhu just could not reach. Serving for the gold, Saina forced a wide stroke from Sindhu and then let out a scream to celebrate the triumph.