Gold Coast (Australia) (AFP) – Saina Nehwal made up for her disappointing Rio Olympics as she defeated fellow Indian and rival P.V. Sindhu to win her second Commonwealth Games badminton singles gold on Sunday.
In a tense final, the Delhi 2010 champion staged a second-game comeback against Sindhu, the Olympic silver-medallist, to grasp a thrilling victory 21-18, 23-21.
Former world number one Nehwal, 28, a poster girl of Indian sport, used her greater experience to peg back the 22-year-old Sindhu and the decisive moment came at 18-18 in the second game when a mammoth rally went Nehwal’s way.
Both players were left hunched over gasping for breath as the Gold Coast crowd rose to its feet in applause.
Nehwal, the London Olympic bronze medallist, had heavy strapping on her right shin and revealed afterwards she had been playing through pain throughout the competition.
“It was a very pressurised tournament, a lot of top competition from the Malaysians, it was a very challenging tournament,” said Nehwal, ranked 12 in the world to Sindhu’s three.
Asked how this gold ranked to the one she won on home soil eight years ago, Nehwal said: “Much more tough because the pressure is always there when you already have gold, so there is a lot more expectation.
“I put it next to my Olympic medal and my world number one ranking. It’s a very emotional moment because I’ve been waiting for one good, big victory after that disappointing (second-round) loss at Rio where I had to retire because of my injury and had to go through surgery.”