India's sizzling stroke-maker PV Sindhu finished strongly in the last two qualifying events to surge into the prestigious season-ending World Super Series Finals for the first time. The tournament will be played in Dubai from December 14 to 18.
The event features the best eight singles players and doubles pairs of the year's World Super Series tour. And it was not until the last of the 12 stops - Hong Kong Open - that some athletes secured their places in the lucrative $1 million event.
Qualification seemed a distant dream for Sindhu who was 16th in the Destination Dubai Rankings with just two events left. The 21-year-old's victory at the China Open earned her 11,000 points and revived her chances.
However, competition for the last women's singles spot was tight with Sindhu's Indian compatriot Saina Nehwal, Japan's Sayaka Sato and Minatsu Mitani, and Thailand's Porntip Buranaprasertsuk in the reckoning as players gathered in Hong Kong.
When the dust settled, it was near six-footer Sindhu who stood tall, clutching the last plane ticket to Dubai; her runner-up finish at Hong Kong Coliseum seeing her past the other hopefuls.
"I did not think too far ahead. I knew that if I did well, I would qualify for Dubai. I'm looking forward to it," Sindhu said.
"It's an honour to play in Dubai, it's an event that I have always wanted to qualify for. My form is good and hopefully it will continue in Dubai. I'm happy that I did well the last two weeks. I'm a bit upset I didn't win Hong Kong, but Tai (Tzu Ying) played better than me."
It was a bitter-sweet celebration for Indian badminton fans though as former World No.1 Saina fell at the last hurdle in her comeback from knee surgery. Her quarter-final loss in Hong Kong saw her finish ninth overall.
A star-studded field, including 2016 Olympic gold medallist Carolina Marin of Spain will vie for women's singles supremacy. Other qualifiers are Tai Tzu Ying (Chinese Taipei), Japan's Akane Yamaguchi, China's Sun Yu and He Bingjiao, Thailand's Ratchanok Intanon, who blazed to three Super Series titles in three weeks this year, and South Korea's Sung Ji Hyun.
No other Indian, apart from Sindhu, managed to qualify for the tournament across the five formats of the game.