Hyderabad Hotshots stormed into the finals of the inaugural Indian Badminton League (IBL) 3-0 in the first semi-finals against Pune Pistons at the GMC Balayogi indoor stadium in Hyderabad on Wednesday night.
Star shuttler and Hyderabad Hotshots’ Saina Nehwal beat Pune’s Juliane Schenk 21-10, 19-21, 11-8 in the women’s singles while Ajay Jayaram defeated Tien Minh Nyugen 21-17, 21-11.
Hotshots’ pair of Goh V Shem and Wah Lim Khim them emerged victorious in the doubles event against Pune’s Joachim Fischer and Sanave Thomas to take their team into the final. They won 16-21, 21-14, 11-7.
Earlier, Saina survived some anxious moments before prevailing over Schenk in a tight contest as Hotshots took a 2-0 lead over Pune Pistons.
Hyderabad’s icon player Saina won a tense decider after she could not finish off the match in the second game.
Jayaram pulled off a surprising victory over the top-ranked Tien Minh Nyugen in the first match.
The match between Saina and Schenk, currently world No.4 and No.3, respectively, proved to be an exciting battle marked by long rallies, powerful smashes and drop shots as both tried to outsmart each other.
The first game went in Saina’s favour as she managed to expand her initial lead of 7-3 at the time of the first break to a massive 14-4 by the second interval.
Saina gained momentum as the game progressed and some unforced errors proved to be the undoing for her German opponent who conceded the first game 10-21.
Schenk, however, put up a tough fight in the second game which witnessed long rallies between the two as they did not let any opportunity to score go by.
Saina had an edge of 7-6 by the first break and succeeded in taking it to 14-8 by the second interval. Schenk, however, staged a remarkable comeback and levelled the score at 18-18 before taking the game at 21-19.
The decider was a keenly-fought between the two celebrated players and the spectators were on the edge of their seats.
Cheered by the home spectators who enjoyed every bit of the rallies and powerful smashes, Saina finished the duel at 11-8.
“I lost my focus in the second game and was unable to retrieve a few shots. Schenk also changed her shots a little bit, which became quite dangerous. But I just thought about winning for a few seconds and got myself back in action to win the match,” Saina said after the match.