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Nehwal Shocks Herself With Extraordinary Win
Saina Nehwal kept alive her Dubai World Superseries Finals chances with one of the most extraordinary wins of her career tonight, - a 23-21, 9-21, 21-12 triumph against Carolina Marin, the reigning number one and world champion, in front of a vocal crowd at the Hamdan Sports Complex.
Nehwal lost her opening group match heavily yesterday and had not trained for three weeks since re-injuring her Achilles in the China Open. Yet when a chance unexpectedly presented itself in the third game, she had enough left in reserve to grab it.
It probably helped that her low expectations left her completely relaxed, and that she made a big effort to win the first game. That meant that when Marin made some uncharacteristic errors in third game, she suddenly found herself under pressure.
“I never thought I would win, I had no plan,” Nehwal, the words pouring out between huge smiles. “And I never expected to play so well against Carolina. I didn't do any kind of running before coming here, and thought I would be going home and playing with my dog this weekend.”
If Nehwal’s troublesome Achilles recovers, and she overcomes the winless defending champion Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei tomorrow, she could reach Saturday’s semi-finals.
Marin meanwhile now has to win her last group match, against Nozomi Okuhara of Japan, who is unbeaten. If she does it could leave three players with two wins, and cause a countback of games won and lost.
Earlier Wang Yihan, the former leading woman, resisted defeat as resolutely as the repeated questions about when she will retire, coming from a game and 16-17 down to beat Ratchanok Intanon in a tussle of former world champions.
Wang played close to her best when she was in danger in the second game, taking five out of the last seven points to rescue herself and then getting on top and winning 19-21, 21-19, 21-11. The Chinese player now qualifies for the semis and so could her compatriot Wang Shixian, a former world number one, if she too beats Intanon.
Earlier yet another Chinese, Chen Long, the world number one, made certain of qualifying for the Men’s Singles semis with a solid second win. He did that with a 21-17, 21-12 win over Hu Yun, a boyhood friend from Hubei province, who is representing Hong Kong.
Hu surprisingly took a 9-5 lead in the first game, but when Chen increased the speed of the rallies and combined it with some brilliant defence, he pulled back the deficit steadily. When he hurtled to a 9-0 lead in the second game, it effectively ended the contest. “These things are quite normal,” claimed Chen, with a superior calm.
Already the winner of seven major titles this year, he is an increasingly hot favourite to score an eighth here, and a successful title defence of in the BWF tour’s flagship event is one of the very few things which his legendary compatriot, Lin Dan, twice the Olympic men’s singles champion, has not managed.
Meanwhile there have been surprises in the doubles events too. Following the defeat of the Olympic Mixed Doubles champions, Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei yesterday, the Women’s Doubles world champions, Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei, also suffered a setback today.
They were beaten by the Indonesian pair of Greysia Polii and Nitya Krishinda Maheswari, which means that there will be three pairs battling for two semi-final places in both these events tomorrow.
For Zhang and Zhao to qualify they must beat Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir, the former world champions from Indonesia, which may prove difficult. Zhao and Tian will face Eefje Muskens and Selena Piek of The Netherlands, which in theory may be less troublesome. But in a continuously high quality event like this, surprises are more than usually possible.
The men’s doubles has been less surprising – so far. Lee Yong Dae and Yoo Yeon Seong, the titleholders from Korea, are unbeaten with two wins, as are Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen, the Olympic silver medallists from Denmark, and Chai Biao and Hong Wei, the developing Chinese pair. But other pairs are still in the hunt, waiting for slip-ups.
The action continues tomorrow with matches commencing at 10am and running until approximately 9pm. For the full schedule go to https://www.tournamentsoftware.com/sport/matches.aspx?id=CA160B94-64E2-4C8A-8E18-9E269E9A46EB&d=20151210
Tickets for the BWF Dubai World Superseries Finals are on sale at www.ticketmaster.ae. Prices start from AED 25, with those under 18 years entering for free when accompanied by a ticketed adult. With plenty of activities in the fanzone and free transport form various locations around Dubai, the event offers a fantastic experience for all to enjoy.
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