Saina Nehwal on Sunday capped her dream run in the Chinese Taipei Open by clinching the title to become the first Indian woman shuttler with two Grand Prix crowns under her belt.
The second-seeded Indian, who won the Philippines Open Grand Prix in May 2006, beat unseeded Malaysian Li Ya Lydia Cheah 21-8, 21-19 in the final of the GP Gold event in Taipei.
Saina, who reached the Olympic quarter-finals a couple of weeks back in Beijing , played to a plan and attacked her opponent from the word go.
The tactics paid off well for the world number 14 who gave no chance to her Malaysian rival, a slow mover on the court, to bridge the gap in the first game.
The second game, though, saw a determined Cheah fight back but the Indian was up to the task and ran away with the match after some anxious moments.
“I guess this is perhaps my best performance so far. Of course my show in Beijing Olympics gave me a lot of confidence but I think I played here really well,” Saina said.
Asked if she would rate Sunday’s win higher than her 2006 Philippines Open triumph, Saina said, “Philippines Open was a four-star event and this is five-star and it’s unbelievable that I won this title.”
Looking ahead, Saina said she must keep the momentum going.
“Next I play in Japan and China Open, both of which are Super Series events and I have to continue the good work there,” said the 21-year-old Hyderabadi girl.
An elated Badminton Association of India President VK Verma termed Saina’s stunning victory a great achievement for Indian shuttlers.
“I congratulate Saina for her outstanding victory. Her career has been on the up now. She won the Philippines Open Grand Prix in 2006, then she reached the quarter-finals in the Olympics and now she has won a Grand Prix Gold event,” he said.
“It was a formidable victory winning the final in straight sets and 21-8 in the first game was truly amazing.”