HYDERABAD: Top seed and World No 2 Saina Nehwal stumbled at the last hurdle and lost to seventh seed Li Xuerui 12-21, 15-21 in the women’s singles final of the China Open Super Series at Fuzhou on Sunday.
Saina thus failed to defend the crown that she won last year. She showed courage, stamina and inexhaustible energy but fell to a player who was superior on the day. She tried hard and yet, couldn’t stop the Chinese from running away with the match. At times, she failed to put things together as the final got over in just 39 minutes.
Coach U Vimal Kumar admitted that the London Olympic champion played better. “Xuerui was tactically better, while Saina was sluggish,” he said.
The 24-year-old Chinese, who had an overall 9-2 record against the Indian before this match, was fast and aggressive. She gave Saina a torrid time and as result, the World Championships runner-up was struggling to find the right length on her shots. “Xuerui had more variations,” added Vimal. The first game was over in a matter of 16 minutes.
In the second game, the 25-year-old Saina had a good start and even took an 11-6 lead to spark hopes of a comeback, but Xuerui was equal to the task. “Xuerui was mentally very strong. She rallied splendidly to outplay Saina,” noted Vimal. “Saina needs to improve tactically against Xuerui to make some headway.”
However, Vimal was happy with the way Saina performed in the campaign in China. “Considering the fact that she had issues with injuries, her performance was much better that expected. But she definitely needs to improve physically and tactically.”