Odense (Denmark) : Saina Nehwal gave her all before losing steam as the ace Indian shuttler yet again succumbed to nemesis and World No.1 Tai Tzu Ying to settle for a runner-up finish at the Denmark Open on Sunday. In an exciting but energy-sapping 52-minute final, Saina lost 13-21, 21-13, 6-21 to the superior Chinese Taipei rival. Tzu Ying claimed the Denmark Open title after a gap of two years. She had last won the tournament in 2016. The win also bettered Tzu Ying head-to-head record against Saina to 13-5. In fact, this was Saina’s fifth straight defeat against Tzu Ying this year.
The Indian had come out second best four times earlier this year — Indonesia Masters, All England Championships, Badminton Asia Championships and in the Jakarta Asian Games. The top seed Taipei player meant business from the start as she dictated the pace in the first game to race to a 6-1 lead. The Chinese Taipei shuttler never let the Indian opponent take the lead even once in the opening game as she led 11-6 and continued to maintain the upper hand. She pocketed the first game in mere 15 minutes. But the World No. 10 Indian, who was unseeded here, was in no mood to give up without a fight and came out all guns blazing in the second game.
Saina’s ploy to adopt an attacking approach worked wonders as she completely dominated the second game. Riding on her booming cross court smashes, Saina led 11-5 at the break and then went on to win the game 21-13 to draw parity. But the Indian failed to continue with the momentum in the decider as her legs gave up in the wake of an intense match. Tzu Ying curtailed her mistakes and once again engaged Saina in long rallies which drained out the Indian. Unforced errors returned to haunt Saina in the third game.