Indian badminton ace Saina Nehwal defeated China’s Li Xuerui to win the Indonesia Open Super Series in Jakarta on Sunday, sending out a strong message to rivals ahead of the London Olympics next month.
The world number five took the women’s singles crown and $48,750 in prize money by beating world number four Li from a set down 13-21, 22-20, 21-19.
Nehwal said winning her third Indonesia Open title was “special” and hoped for more success in the country. She won the tournament in 2009 and 2010 but lost the following year to China’s Wang Yihan.
“I’m happy to win the tournament today. But there are lots to be done (before the Olympics),” she said.
“I think all the Chinese are really good... All of them are very strong, very hard working. They gave me lots of tough fights even in the quarter final,” she added.
Nehwal thrashed Sung Ji-Hyun of Korea in the semi-final Saturday while Li beat top-seeded compatriot Wang Yihan in the other semi-final game.
Li took the first game easily in Sunday’s final at the Gelora Bung Karno indoor stadium, winning 21-13 with a series of ambitious cross-court smashes.
Nehwal regained her composure and made a comeback in the second game, engaging Li in long rallies and then pinning her to the baseline.
The final and deciding game was a closely-fought contest before Nehwal sealed her victory after Li’s weak backhand return hit the net.
“The support is always with me, I’m really happy... but the whole stadium is cheering (for) me,” Nehwal said.
Li said she had a shot at winning but caved under pressure.
“I think I had the chance to win but I did not use it very well. My opponent played a tough match while I played under pressure,” she said after the match.
In the men’s singles, Indonesia’s ace shuttler Simon Santoso defeated China’s Du Pengyu in three sets, 21-18, 13-21, 21-11, to win the title.