Crowned the world number one, Saina Nehwal today celebrated her numero uno status with a straight-game demolition of Japanese Yui Hashimoto to reach her maiden final of the USD 275,000 India Super Series at the Siri Fort Sports Complex here today.
The Olympic bronze medallist, Saina became the world number one even before she took the court for the semifinals after her closest competitor Carolina Marin of Spain lost in the other last four match against Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon.
The girl from Hyderabad thrashed Hashimoto 21-15 21-11 in a match that lasted for 43 minutes to set up a title clash with former world champion Hashimoto.
“It is a dream come true. I can’t even believe that I have become the world number one. I guess till the time I see my name there myself I won’t be able to believe it. It has been a long journey,” Saina said.
“I want to thank Vimal Sir, my parents for the success. Vimal sir had told me that I will be number one by may. I can’t still believe it.”
Even before she took the court for the semifinals, news started floating about Saina reaching the number one ranking after her closest rival for the top spot Marin lost to former world champion Intanon.
Once on the court, Saina played like a champion as she dominated the long rallies with her repertoire of strokes and pushed the Japanese to commit mistakes.
Egged on by a vociferous weekend crowd, Saina lead 11-8 at the break. The Indian continued her dominating run after the interval, using her drops, deep returns and accurate smashes to lead 18-12.
Saina lost a few points due to service fault and a couple of miscued shots, before grabbing the first game courtesy two unforced errors by her opponent.
The change of sides didn’t change Hashimoto’s fate much as she continued with her unforced errors, hitting wide and long and faltering at the nets to allow Saina to zoom to a 11-2 lead with a delicate net shot that found the Japanese napping.
The loud cheers of ‘jitega bhai jitega India jitega’ reverberated across the Siri fort complex that was thronged by fans.
The script didn’t change much after the interval as Hashimoto struggled with her strokes. She also lost a video referrel as Saina reached 15-3 lead. The Indian continued to ride on the Japanese’ erratic strokes to grab a couple of points.
Hashimoto won a point after a net exchange and added a few more when Saina hit wide but she could never threaten the Indian who moved to a 14 match points after the Japanese hit long.
Not ready to go down without a fight, Hashimoto saved five match points before Saina completed the demolition with a delicate push at the net.