India’s No. 1 badminton star, Saina Nehwal, defeated Spain’s Carolina Marin Sunday in Sydney to take home the women’s singles title of the Australian Badminton Open. It was Nehwal’s first Super Series title in about 20 months and her second title of 2014.
Seeded No. 6 in the tournament, Nehwal won 21-18, 21-11 to win the tournament and prize money of $750,000 USD. In the semifinal, she defeated Chinese Shixian Wang 21-19, 16-21, 21-15. Wang is ranked No. 2 worldwide.
Nehwal’s victory over Marin, however, did not come as a surprise to those who have followed her career. She has historically had a fair amount of success against the Spaniard, extending her streak to 2-0 against Marin. At the strategic level, Nehwal has been able to dominate Marin with her superior volley tactics.
The second match showed more promise from Marin, as she started the match strong to go up 3-1 early. This time, however, it was Nehwal’s baseline game that brought her back within striking distance. Nehwal took over all the momentum as she ended up racing to an 11-4 lead in a surprising turn of events. Despite Marin’s efforts to make it a competitive affair, Nehwal’s focus guided her to one of the biggest accomplishments in her young career.
“Congratulations to Saina Nehwal on winning the Australian Open Badminton Title,” said actor Kabir Bedi, echoing sentiments of many in India. “India is proud of you!”