INDONESIA OPEN 2012 Finals – Saina back from the brink

India’s Saina Nehwal fought back to save two championship points in the women’s singles final at the Djarum Indonesia Open today. The world number 5 held her nerve to make […]

India’s Saina Nehwal fought back to save two championship points in the women’s singles final at the Djarum today. The world number 5 held her nerve to make the remarkable comeback against badminton’s new kid on the block, Li Xuerui of China. Nehwal improved on her runner-up spot from last year on a day that witnessed one of those rarities in badminton, 5 different winners from 5 different countries.

Article by Mark Phelan. Photos by Yves Lacroix for Badmintonphoto (Live in Jakarta)

This women’s singles event in Jakarta had drama written over it from the outset of the tournament. Wang Yihan set the tone for the week by defeating Tina Baun by the narrowest of margins then Li Xuerui in turn beats the world number one on her way to the final. Saina Nehwal (pictured) herself had that remarkable quarter-final win over Wang Shixian where both women were almost dead on their feet by the end of the match.

The Chinese had come into this final on the back of two wins over Nehwal and the writing looked on the wall for the Indian after going a game down and trailing 18-20 in the second. But any who have seen Nehwal play this week will have noticed a much more focused and much fitter Indian on court. Nehwal has reportedly trimmed down by as much as 5.5kg in her preparation for the Olympics and that new-found level of fitness that was key against Shixian in the quarters was critical again in the outcome of today’s final. The Indian eventually taking the title in three-game win a 21-19 in the deciding rubber.

Has Nehwal peaked too soon? Only time will tell but one thing is certain: the Indian has her sights set on London and is going to extreme lengths in her preparation for her assault on the gold medal.

In the men’s singles, the home crowd had their only winner of the day as Simon Santoso (pictured) flew under the radar to lift the title. Santoso, who always looks like the world is about to end when he plays badminton, tiptoed in the back door to the final as Taufik Hidayat and Sony Dwi Kuncoro stole all the early tournament headlines. The number seven seed took the title in three games today at the expense of China’s Du Pengyu.

The men’s doubles final was true world class badminton at its very best with two likely podium pairs for the Olympics battling it out for the honours in Jakarta. Denmark’s Boe and Mogensen got off to a dream start but squandered two consecutive game points in the opener against Lee Yong Dae and Jung Jae Sung (pictured) with the Koreans eventually taking the opening game 23-21. The Koreans powered into a 17-11 lead in the second and looked on track to take the title in two but a combination of a loss of concentration coupled with the battling qualities of the Danes saw the match go into a deciding game as the Danes took the second 21-19.

In the end the Danes had nothing left in the tank and the Koreans learned a valuable lesson in that second game and maintained 100% focus in the deciding game and were pretty much out of sight by the mid game interval. Lee Yong Dae and Jung Jae Sung eventually lifting the title with a 21-11 win in the third.  The win may actually net the Koreans the world #1 spot by the end of this month and all indications are that they welcome the chance to enter the Olympics as the favourites on paper.

“Close but no cigar. Damn, we should have taken the first game. Well, we really enjoyed playing in Istora, and thanks to all the supporters, who make the atmosphere so fantastic. We will be back next year,” commented Boe on his Facebook page after the match.

Elsewhere, China had their only victory of the day in the women’s doubles event with Wang Xiaoli / Yu Yang victorious over compatriots Tian Qing / Zhao Yunlei in three games. The final match on court was the mixed doubles and Thai pair Sudket Prapakamol / Saralee Thoungthongkam silenced the home fans with a three-game win over Tantowi Ahmad / Liliyana Natsir in a remarkable day of play where all matches went the distance to three games with 5 different nationalities on the top step of the podium.

For all results click HERE

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