AUSTRALIAN OPEN 2014 SF – Vanilla flavoured victory

Saina Nehwal was able to savour victory even if it was a plain strategy that allowed her to oust world #2 Wang Shixian from the Star Australian Open Superseries. By […]

Saina Nehwal was able to savour victory even if it was a plain strategy that allowed her to oust world #2 Wang Shixian from the Star .

By Aaron Wong, Badzine Correspondent live in Sydney.  Photos: Yves Lacroix for Badmintonphoto (live)

The 76-minutes-long women’s singles match showcased two competitors who were absolutely ready for the particular brand of game each brings to the court, mentally, physically, and skills-wise.

Known for her stamina and strength, Saina Nehwal (pictured) paced herself nicely against the fiercest of opponents on the circuit. The Indian used her smash and drop-shots judiciously and spent the majority of time retrieving shots in a tailgating manner rather than being dictated to. She was clearly in good time to most of Wang’s replies but choose not to prematurely waste any full-blooded offence or unnecessarily deplete energy.

Economy gear

Nehwal was able to lead in the opening game because Wang became frustrated by the lack of inroads being made despite applying diligence. However, Wang Shixian (pictured) was drawing most of the crowd’s gasps and applause for her usual spectacular angle plays and swift cross net-shots. Only one or two crucial shots Wang hit an inch long of the lines was sufficient to hand over the first game 21-19 to the intelligent and plain vanilla strategy of the Indian. Further credit to the latter, Nehwal was an exceptional judge today of close shots there were outside the lines.

Ungettable net shots

In the second game, Wang’s serve at 7-8, which went wide and out into the doubles box, indicated her vexed frame of mind. Conventionally, singles players wouldn’t serve high and out wide, let alone out by that much. But the dangerous Chinese player gathered her composure spectacularly and quickly to pulled out long rallies with beautiful touch on final net shots. Made to run so much, her opponent needed to stop, remove shoes, and received medical attention on the left foot. Wang thrilled the crowd with 3 consecutive cross-court net shots to win the second game, 21-16.

Knowing what to do…and actually doing it

As the decider progressed, Nehwal knew what the requirements of herself were to reach the finish line even though it would be a hardworking route. They were to not lose focus, to keep plugging the gaps, and to wait for the more than 50% of occasions when Wang will hit out in an extended rally if the shuttle goes to the rear. Nehwal just had to do it successfully 21 times, which she did, along with never taking it for granted that Wang could quickly regroup again like in the second game. The umpire cautioning Wang late in the match, presumably for stalling the action, only helped the Indian’s cause. The Chinese didn’t beat the Indian a third consecutive time but bowed again 15-21 in the third game.

Pleased with executing her plan all the way, Saina Nehwal flung her racquet into the crowd after shaking hands.

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Aaron Wong

About Aaron Wong

Aaron Wong only ever coveted badminton's coolest shot - a reverse backhand clear. He is renowned for two other things: 1) Writing tournament previews that adjust the focus between the panorama of the sport's progress, down to the microscopic level of explaining the striking characteristics of players; 2) Dozing off during men's doubles at the London Olympic Games. Contact him at: aaron @