New Delhi, Aug 15: Saina Nehwal launched her Indian Badminton League (IBL) campaign on a winning note on Thursday. She proved experience counts by defeating rising star PV Sindhu in straight games 21-19, 21-8 in 40 minutes.
It was the clash of icon players from Hyderabad Hotshots and Awadhe Warriors. It was billed as Independence Day Special but after raising expectations of the fans in the first game, Saina firmly put Sindhu out of the contest in the second.
Saina, the world number 4, after a tough first game, demolished Sindhu 21-8 in the second to give her team 2-0 lead. In the first match (men's singles), Hyderabad were put ahead by Thailand's Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk when he beat RMV Guru Saidutt 15-21, 21-14, 11-9.
Sindhu, who today moved two places to world number 10, started off well but faded out in the second game. This was 18-year-old Sindhu's first game after winning the bronze medal at the World Championships in Guangzhou last week.
It was for the first time that Saina and Sindhu were involved in a competitive match. 23-year-old Saina might have won today but Sindhu is talented and is capable of upsetting the "Queen of Indian Badminton" in future.
"There was lot of pressure in the first game. It happens. She played really well," said Saina after the match.
"She has been fantastic, doing extraordinarily well," Saina, the Olympic bronze medallist, added when asked about Sindhu.
In the opening game, Sindhu held the lead for most phases but the experience of Saina prevailed in the end.
At the first break, Sindhu was ahead by 7-3. By the next 1-minute interval, Sindhu was still calling the shots at 14-10. But all that changed in the final 7 points of the game.
Saina was quick to attack and there were no long rallies. She bounced back to draw level at 15-15. Sindhu kept fighting hard and saved one game point but Saina won 21-19 in 21 minutes.
In the second game, it was absolutely a no-contest as Saina controlled right from the start. She finished the match off with a powerful smash much to the delight of her team-mates, owners, officials and fans.
It was top-class badminton on show for the spectators with the Finance Minister P Chidambaram also watching from the stands on the second day of IBL. Olympic silver medallist shooter Rajyavardhan Rathore, Mumbai Masters co-owner and Telugu film star Nagarjuna were also part of the audience at DDA Badminton & Squash Stadium (Siri Fort).