Olympic bronze-medallist Saina Nehwal on Sunday said the triumph at the China Open Super Series Premier was one of her "toughest" and it showed that the hard work was paying off. (Saina, Srikanth Win China Open Titles)
World No. 5 Saina had to draw from her reservoir of experience to stave off the challenge of the Akane Yamaguchi of Japan 21-12, 22-20 to clinch the women's singles title of the USD 700,000 China Open.
"I'm very happy to win this title, my third in the season. It is one of the toughest. I have been working really hard for the last few months and I am extremely happy that my efforts bore fruit," Saina told PTI.
"It has not been easy for me. Vimal sir (Kumar) helped me a lot and it is a huge victory and a great feeling to win the title in China," she said.
Talking about her opponent Akane Yamaguchi of Japan, Saina said: "The Japanese girl is very good. She is young and she played very well. She did trouble me in the second game especially but I am happy I could prevail over her. She is extremely talented and will be a force to reckon in future."
About her future tournaments, Saina said: "I am focused to do well in Hong Kong Open (Nov 18-23) next. I have won the tournament in 2010 and I am in good shape now. The confidence of this win will help me to do well.
"I am also looking forward to the BWF World Super Series Final in Dubai. That is my ultimate target now." It was a double bonanza for India as while Saina clinched her maiden China Open, K Srikanth made history winning his first Super Series Premier title after notching up a stunning straight-game victory over two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan of China at the Haixia Olympic Sport Center here.
Asked about Srikanth, Saina said: "I am extremely happy for Srikanth. His victory was amazing. It turned out to be a historic moment for Indian badminton."
National coach Pullela Gopichand heaped praise on his two wards, describing it as a landmark day for Indian badminton.
"Winning the men's and women's singles game of China Open in China is amazing. It is a brilliant effort for any nation and as an Indian I think it is a very proud moment for all of us," he said.
Talking about Srikanth, Gopichand said: "If you look at his game, I think he played superbly. Fantastic victoriers. Superb is the word. The quality of the match was fanastic, the way he pulled off the match is amazing.
"If you analyse his strokes, he missed out a 6-7 winners by close margin but he played smart and brave."
Praising Saina, Gopichand said: "It was a good win. She played well. Two Indians winning in China Open is great news. I wish I could hear the national anthem there. I am missing it."
Former National coach Vimal Kumar, who has been training Saina since the Asian Games, said: "It was Saina's hard work which helped her to win this title. She has been putting a lot of hours but I told her that she needed to include more quality than quantity. Now she has to be more consistent as there are 8-9 girls who are very good.
"She played a sharp game in China and it will give her a lot of confidence to win in China. She was varying the pace of the game. She has been practising the variations. The Japanese girl is very good and one to be watched out for in future. She thrashed so many Chinese and has got great mobility."
Asked about Srikanth, Vimal said: "It is a creditable win for Srikanth to beat Lin Dan in China. Our Indian players have been falling short. I am sure it will help his game and increase his level. It is a great prospect for Indian badminton."