Saina Nehwal beat P.V Sindhu 21-19, 21-8 to give Hyderabad Hotshots a 2-0 lead against the Awadhe Warriors. (Photo/PTI)
India ace Saina Nehwal today notched up a straight-game victory over rising shuttler P V Sindhu in the women's singles competition to help Hyderabad Hotshots enjoy a 2-0 lead against Awadhe warriors in the inaugural Indian badminton League (IBL), here today.
Touted as the biggest match of the day, the clash between Saina and Sindhu turned out to a one-sided affair as the London Olympics bronze medallist showed why she is considered the badminton queen of India as she beat her junior rival 21-19 21-8 in the second match of the opening rubber.
While Sindhu looked a faint memory of her dominating self which earned her the reputation of being a giant-killer, Saina's game did not reflect the fact that she could not win a single title this year and also failed to win a medal at the World Championship in China.
Sindhu, who beat two Chinese in the run up to her bronze medal-winning feat at the recently concluded World Championship, dominated the proceedings early on as she used her deceptive drops and angled slice to bamboozle Saina.
Sindhu enjoyed a healthy lead in the first two breaks.
The young Hyderabadi was leading 7-3 in the first interval and then kept a 14-10 distance in the second break.
But Saina, who was depending more on her baseline down the line smashes till now, changed gears and clawed back with some immaculate body smashes and then marched ahead at 17-15.
Sindhu kept her cool and grabbed two quick points to make it 17-17 but she lost a point at the net to hand over the lead to Saina again.
Egged on by the vociferous crowd, the 23-year-old moved to a two-game point lead and although she lost a game point, she sealed the issue in her favour with a smash.
In the second game, Sindhu could not play her natural game. She looked completely off-colour and struggled with her strokes. She committed many unforced errors as Saina led 7-4 and 14-6 in the first two intervals.
Sindhu could not break Saina's rally game and surrendered rather meekly in the end as the latter shut the doors on her younger colleague with a powerful smash.
"Sindhu gave me a tough time in the beginning but the cheer from the crowd really helped me in giving my best and I hope I can continue to live up to the expectations of the crowd and my team," Saina said after her match.
"The way Sindhu plays, I'm sure she has a bright future ahead," she added.
Earlier, in the opening match, RMV Gurusaidutt squandered a one-game advantage to go down fighting 21-15 14-21 9-11 to Saemsomboonsuk Tanongsak of Thailand in the first men's singles competition to give Hyderabad 1-0 lead.
Guru led 7-2 at the first break. He varied the pace well and used his smashes to good effect. Tanongsak tried to script a comeback by involving Guru in rallies and made it 8-9 but Guru did not allow pressure to build up and went into the second interval with a 14-10 lead.
Both were erratic after that but it was Guru who nosed ahead when Tanongsak hit the net.
Following a word of advice from Taufik Hidayat, the left handed Tanongsak came back strongly after changing sides and made it 7-2. The duo fought tooth and nail after the break but Tanongsak still enjoyed a 14-10 lead at the second interval.
Guru looked out of sort after that as the Thai accumulated points in a jiffy and roared back into the contest with a jump smash.
In the decider, Guru got his act together and eked out a narrow 6-4 lead at the first break. However, Tanongsak turned the tables moving to 9-8. Guru drew level but his shot got buried at the nets first and then he shot wide to allow the Thai win the game in the new race to 11 point format.
"Winning a match from one point really gave an advantage in this format and saved a lot of time as well," said Tanongsak.