Indians soar past Thailand to top group

Indians soar past Thailand to top group

Saina outclasses Intanon; Sindhu proves too good for Porntip

Indians soar past Thailand to top group

The desire to reclaim her place in the top echelons is burning brightly in Saina Nehwal. The now World No 8 has often spoken about her restlessness to win titles.

 Against the reigning World Champion and World No 4 Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand in Uber Cup Finals on Tuesday, the Indian star gave ample insight of her determined resurgence. 

In her 22-20, 21-14 conquer of Intanon, Saina’s hard work of last week shone along with the sweat. The 24-year-old, returning from an injury-stricken 2013, delighted with her wristy returns as much she does with her sharp smashes. 

PV Sindhu kept up the good work with a 21-19, 21-14 victory over Porntip Buranaprasertsuk to make it 2-0 for India. Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa then gave finishing touches with a dominating show to seal the tie 3-0 for India with a 21-16, 21-13 win over Duanganong Aroonkesorn and Savitree Amitrapai. Already through to the knockouts India’s win put them at the top of Group Y.

It was the hosts’ first real test and Saina led the charge with gumption. Although Saina now leads 5-3 against Intanon, it was the Thai who got the better of the Indian in the last two contests, including the All England Championships last year. Like Saina, Intanon too is returning from injury. But the improvement in Saina’s game was palpable.

Intanon, known for her deceptive game and teasing flicks, was taken in by surprise as Saina overpowered the Thai in her own style. The first game was largely huddled around the net as the two tested each other with their reflexes and supple returns. Saina, plagued by a troublesome knee in the past, showed good court-craft to pick the Thai’s drops and low returns.

The Indian largely prevailed in the net dribbles and her slices sometimes were too good to handle for Intanon, who was struggling to keep a tab on her errors. In the tightly fought first game, two frequently dropped leads before Saina rustled up a game point in another net sparring. The Thai saved it but Saina closed it out at 22, when she set up a point with a smash and sealed it with a well-timed tap. 

With first game in her pocket and a vociferous crowd egging her, Saina treated a dispirited Intanon to a flurry of smashes to race to a 11-4 lead. The Thai picked up her game in the second half to raise the excitement. But Saina, backing herself on each point, kept a firm grasp on the lead.

 She won the game and the match when Intanon’s return sailed long and let out a victory cry, clenching both her fists.

“I can’t believe that I beat her in straight games and, that too, here (Siri Fort Sports Complex) where I have never played well. I got emotional after winning. She is a world number four player and winning against her means I have trained really well. I hope to continue that in future,” said a beaming Saina. Japan in quarters

Japan men and women sealed the quarterfinal spots in Thomas and Uber Cup respectively. While their men’s team beat Hong Kong 5-0, the women rallied to beat Malaysia 4-1, after losing the first singles.

Like Japan, Denmark also reached the quarterfinals in both the events. The Danes defeated Germany 5-0 in Uber Cup, before the men hammered England with an identical margin in Thomas Cup.

Also making it to the last eight were Thailand and Indonesia in Thomas Cup and Korea and Indonesia in Uber Cup.

Results: Thomas Cup: Group A: Indonesia bt Nigeria 5-0; Thailand bt Singapore 4-1.Group B: Denmark bt England 5-0; Japan bt Hong Kong 5-0.

Uber Cup: 

Group X: Indonesia bt Singapore 4-1; Korea bt Australia 5-0.Group Z: Denmark bt Germany 5-0; Japan bt Malaysia 4-1.Group Y: India bt Thailand 3-0 (Saina Nehwal bt Ratchanok Intanon 22-20, 21-14; PV Sindhu bt Porntip Buranaprasertsuk 21-19, 21-14; Jwala Gutta/ Ashwini Ponnappa bt Duanganong Aroonkesorn/ Savitree Amitrapal 21-16, 21-13).