Jakarta, June 17 (IANS): India's Saina Nehwal got a big shot in the arm ahead of the London Olympics as she saved two match points before beating Li Xuerui of China to win her third Indonesia Open title in four years here today.
The World No. 5 upstaged the reigning All England and Asian Champion 13-21, 22-20, 21-19 after a tantalisingly close match for her maiden Super Series Premier crown and second in as many weeks following the victory at the Thailand Open Grand Prix Gold event in Bangkok last Sunday. For the Chinese, it was her first loss in five straight finals and first to Saina in two years, making the head-to-head record 4-2 in her favour.
With the win, the Hyderabadi continued her love affair with Indonesia where she won back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010 besides reaching the final in 2011.
"I just love coming here. I get great crowd support and I feel like a champion everytime I step on the court," said Sania of the tournament which was awarded Super Series Premier status from Super Series tag last year and is at par with the prestigious All England Championships.
The final lasting 1 hour 5 minutes provided a great spectacle to the badminton fans with both players indulging in long rallies ending with power-packed smashes.
Saina was at the receiving end before pulling off a memorable win.
She looked out of sorts in the first game and posed little resistance against her opponent's down the line smashes and crafty net play. Li was one game up 15 minutes into the contest.
The Indian, realising the need of a change in strategy, attacked more in the second and gained a 13-8 cushion. That was when Xuerui's fighting capabilities came to the fore as cut Saina's lead to 13-12 and then went on to take six straight points from 14-18 to secure two match points. Saina, however, managed to regain her composure to level the match.
The decider had everyone on the edge of their seats with Saina trailing 10-11 at the mid-game break. Saina, however, did manage to maintain a slender lead from there on. Unforced errors started to creep in from Li's racquet and Saina earned crucial points by attacking more on the body and was ahead 19-16. The 22-year-old did not squander the advantage this time around and shut the door on her opponent with a forehand winner.
A couple of net cords going either way added more excitement towards the finish.
Saina pocketed $48750 as prize money while Xuerui received approximately half of it.