Saina Nehwal cruises into All England Badminton Championship finals

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Birmingham, Mar 7: London Olympic bronze medallist Saina Nehwal today scripted history by becoming the first Indian woman to reach the finals of the All England Badminton Championship, the most prestigious tournament, with a straight-game victory over Sun Yu of China in the women's singles competition here.

The World No. 3 Indian, who reached the semifinals of the event in 2010 and 2013, defeated the unseeded Sun 21-13 21-13 in a match that lasted for 50 minutes at the Barclaycard Arena.

Saina Nehwal reaches the finals of the All England Badminton Championship

Saina is now just one step away from joining Indian legends Prakash Padukone (1980) and P Gopichand (2001) who have bagged the prestigious title in the past.

The girl from Hyderabad, who will turn 25 in 10 days, will face reigning world champion Carolina Marin, seeded sixth, of Spain, who defeated Chinese Taipei's Tai Tzu Ying 21-18 21-11 in another semifinal clash tomorrow.

Saina has a 3-0 record against the Spaniard. After disposing her nemesis Yihan Wang of China, third seed Saina was faced with the task of taming the towering Sun, ranked World No. 18, who had seen off the likes of Nichaon Jindapon, Li Xuerui and Ratnachok Intanon over the last three days.

The Indian had come into the match with a 1-1 record against Sun, who had defeated her during the 2013 China Open but all that didn't matter as Saina stamped her authority with her wide repertoire of stroke.

Saina, who had beaten Sun at the Australian Open in June last year, lagged 0-2 behind early on as Sun showed her intent to move to 4-1. A couple of quick points and Sun led 6-1, but Saina soon drew her rival in long drawn battle of rallies, as she scripted her recovery to move to 8-10 before the Chinese surged ahead into the break with a slender 11-10 lead.

After the interval, Saina changed her tactics and was soon rewarded with a couple points as she stretched her lead to 16-12. The Indian soon made it 19-13.

An unforced error from Sun gave Saina the advantage of seven game points and the Hyderabadi sealed it when the Chinese hit the shuttle hard and long. In the second game, Sun once again opened up a narrow 3-2 lead but Saina kept drawing her to the net, where she looked comfortable.

PTI

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