Saina Nehwal made a perfect start to the new season, reaching the women’s singles final of the $350,000. Indonesia Masters with a thrilling straight-game win over world no 4 Ratchanok Inthanon of Thailand here on Saturday.
The former world no 1, who has won thrice in Indonesia, dished out a spirited performance to overcome a fighting Ratchanok 21-19 21-19 in the semifinal lasting 48 minutes.
Saina, who had a 8-5 head-to-head record against the 2013 World Champion Ratchanok, displayed tremendous fighting spirit as she erased a 6-10 deficit in the opening game and held on to the fort despite a late charge by the Thai shuttler in the second game.
Saina, who reached the final of an international competition after a year following her title triumph at Malaysia Masters last year, will play world no 1 Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei or Chinese eighth seed He Bingjiao in the final tomorrow.
Saina won an exceptional rally next but Ratchanok produced a brilliant straight smash and a cross court drop to move to 10-7. A net dribble gone wrong gave another point to Saina but she went long next as Ratchanok entered the break with a three-point cushion.
Saina committed another service error but rode on her drop and body line returns to keep within touching distance at 11-13.
She soon drew parity after Ratchanok went wide and then grabbed a 14-13 lead when the Thai player went long.