Gritty Saina en­ters Aus­tralian Open fi­nal

DNA Sunday (Mumbai) - - FRONT PAGE - — PTI

Syd­ney: Saina Ne­hwal stands just a win away from clinch­ing her sec­ond ti­tle of the year af­ter she stunned world num­ber two and top seed Chi­nese Shix­ian Wang in a gru­elling three- game semi­fi­nal con­test of the $ 750,000 Star Aus­tralian Open Su­per Se­ries here on Satur­day.

Sixth- seeded Saina pre­vailed 21- 19 16- 21 21- 15 in a marathon match, which lasted an hour and 16 min­utes.

“Beat world num­ber 2 wang shix­ian in a tough 3 game match. Through to the fi­nal of the Aus­tralian Open su­per se- ries!” tweeted the In­dian af­ter record­ing her fifth over­all win against the Chi­nese neme­sis, which took their head- to- head record to 5- 3.

In the open­ing game, it was 19- 19 be­fore Saina broke away to seal the is­sue in her favour. Wang roared back in the sec­ond game and they were even till the 16th point but Wang broke off from that point to draw level with Saina.

How­ever, Saina proved in the fi­nal bat­tle of at­tri­tion and won the de­cid­ing third game rather com­pre­hen­sively at the Quicken Loans Na­tional in Wash­ing­ton. At­wal got a spot into the event cour­tesy his close friend Tiger Woods, who hosts the tour­na­ment each year. The tour­na­ment is an in­vi­ta­tional event with a prize purse of USD 6.5 mil­lion and has a field of 120 play­ers. Ga­gan­jeet Bhullar was the lone In­dian to make the cut from among the four in fray, card­ing a two- un­der 70 in the sec­ond round of the BMW In­ter­na­tional Open in Koln, Ger­many. Bhullar, who had a su­perb 67 on first day, has a two- day to­tal of seven- un­der and was tied for 29th af­ter 36 holes. Mean­while, Jeev Milkha Singh ( 71- 70) and Anir­ban Lahiri ( 68- 73) missed the cut by a shot with a to­tal of three- un­der 141. Goan Sports As­so­ci­a­tion ( GSA) struck top form to hand Sports Author­ity of In­dia ‘ B’ a 4- 0 de­feat in a Third Di­vi­sion en­counter of the MHAL League at the MHAL Sta­dium, Church­gate on Satur­day. Stop­watch: GSA 4 ( M Lokhande 2, A Ku­mar 3, B Ku­mar) bt Sports Author­ity of In­dia ‘ B’ 0; Air In­dia Western Re­gion 1 ( A Kam­ble) bt Coorg XI 0 Un­seeded Mi­hir Patekar stunned fifth seed Harsh Ma­niar to en­ter the youth boys’ quar­ter­fi­nals, in the District Rank­ing Ta­ble Ten­nis Tour­na­ment, at the Juhu Vile Parle Gymkhana on Satur­day. Patekar ral­lied from 2- 3 to clinch a 4- 3 thriller that led to a day of strug­gle for the favourites.

— AFP

( Clock­wise from left) David Beck­ham, Bobby Charl­ton and Sachin Ten­dulkar at the Royal Box on Cen­tre Court be­fore the start of the men’s sin­gles match be­tween Rafael Nadal and Mikhail Kukushkin on Satur­day

— AFP

Saina Ne­hwai in ac­tion against Wang Shix­ian on Satur­day

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