Ace shuttler Saina Nehwal claimed her first BWF title in two years after three-time world champion Carolina Marin of Spain limped out of the Indonesia Masters final due to a leg injury, in Jakarta on Sunday.
The London Olympics bronze medallist, who last won a BWF title in 2017 in Malaysia, was trailing 4-10 in the opening game when Marin decided to withdraw from the contest.
“It is important year for all of us. It was not good to see at all. It is painful. I have been getting injured a lot in the last few years and to see something like this on court is really painful,” said Saina, who had suffered a career-threatening knee injury at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
“I know how it is mentally because when I got that knee injury at the Olympics. I was very upset. I was crying like anything. So I know how difficult it is for a player to go through such kind of injuries but the sport is like that, it is cruel.”
It is a creditable performance for the Indian, who had suffered a shin injury late last year.
“I took a break the whole of December. I played this events to see how good I am and I was surprised with myself. January 1 was my first match (PBL) against Sindhu after the injury. I didn’t do any kind of training. Doctors asked me not to do any training,” Saina said.
“But I am not happy with the way I got it today. Of course I am happy that I could reach the finals, beating difficult opponents like He Bingjiao. Both the tournaments, I am very happy with my performance. It is great to beat (Nozomi) Okuhara, Binjiao, Dinar (Dyah Ayustine).
“In the finals, of course Carolina had the upper hand and I wanted to fight and see how the match goes but it was unfortunate what happened,” added the 28-year-old from Hyderabad.
Olympic champion Marin was favourite to win the title. Coming into this match, she led 6-5 in her head-to-head record against Saina, an opponent she beat last week at the Malaysia Masters semifinal in Kuala Lumpur.
The fast-moving Spaniard made a rampaging start to take the first two points before Saina started to engage her in rallies and caught the Spaniard at the net to log her first point.
But the Indian missed the backline a couple of times and also found the net to allow Marin lead 6-2 at the Istora Senayan.
The Spaniard looked in good form, unleashing her aggressive brand of badminton but an unfortunate injury brought a premature end of the match when Marin, leading 9-2, landed badly on her right leg and fall on the court in agony holding her knee.
After a medical time out, Marin tried to continue but eventually collapsed to the ground crying.
She conceded the match at 10-4 up, limping out of the stadium in tears.
For Saina, it turned out to be yet another impressive outing, following the semifinal finish at Malaysia Masters last week.
Next would be All England Championship, a title Saina has not been able to win yet.
“I would not like to comment on that as of now, because I am just happy that these two tournaments were positive but I know that I would need more time to match Tai Tzu and get ready for the big events,” Saina said.
“It is still one more month, so let’s see how it goes. It will be different slow conditions.”
Saina had won a gold medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, a bronze at the Asian Games, besides reaching finals at the Denmark, Indonesia Masters and Syed Modi International.