Saina Nehwal moved to just one step away from the biggest prize yet in her career as she marched into the final of the World Badminton Championships in Jakarta on Saturday.
The World No 2 defeated Indonesia’s Lindaweni Fanetri 21-17, 21-17 in the semifinal to become the first Indian to reach the final of the World Championships.
Her opponent in the title-decider on Sunday will be Spain’s Carolina Marin, the world’s top-ranked player.
After her tremendous win over China’s Wang Yihan on Friday, Saina was expected to take Fanetri in her stride, but the Indonesian, despite playing with an injured knee, managed to push the Indian with her deceptive strokes.
However, Saina played with composure, warding off the threat and wrapping up the match in 55 minutes to silence vociferous home supporters.
“I never thought I'd reach the final,” said Saina.
“It was one of my toughest matches this week, I was playing against the crowd. Whatever points she got was due to my mistakes, due to the pressure. She was playing without any tension,” she said.
Saina has a 3-1 win-loss record against Marin, with the Indian’s lone defeat coming in a painful loss in the final of the All England Championships in March this year. With her confidence high, Saina will be looking to avenge that loss and claim the tag of World Champion for the first time.