Saina Nehwal

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Born: 17 March 1990
Hisar, Haryana
Residence: Hyderabad, India
Coach: Vimal Kumar
Current ranking: 6
Highest ranking: 1

Chances of winning a medal

Bronze (12%)
Silver (74%)
Gold (23%)

10

Saina Nehwal   (born 17 March 1990) is an Indian badminton player born in Haryana, former world no.1 in Women’s Singles. She is the first Indian to win a medal in Badminton at the Olympics. She achieved this feat by winning the Bronze medal at the London Olympics 2012 on 4th of  August 2012. She is also the first Indian after Prakash Padukone and the first Indian woman to become world number 1 badminton player.

Besides these, she is the first Indian to win the World Junior Badminton Championships and was also the first Indian to win a Super Series tournament, by clinching the Indonesia Open on 21 June 2009.

Saina was initially coached by S. M. Arif  and then by Pullela Gopichand till September 2014. Saina is currently coached by the former Indian badminton champion and national coach Vimal Kumar. Saina Nehwal played for Hyderabad Hotshots in the Indian Badminton League in 2013 and she played for Awadhe Warriors in Premier Badminton league in 2016. She won silver at 2015 BWF World Championship becoming the first Indian to do so.

Family Background

Saina Nehwal, the second daughter of Harvir Singh and Usha Rani, was born in a Hindu Jat family in Hisar. Her father worked in CCS HAU. She completed her first few years of schooling at Campus School CCS HAU, Hisar. The family later shifted to Hyderabad. Nehwal also has a brown belt in Karate. Saina did her Xll from St. Ann’s College Mehdipatnam, Hyderabad.

Career So far..

2006–2010 Saina is introduced to the world!!

In 2006, Saina became the under-19 national champion and created history by winning the prestigious Asian Satellite Badminton tournament (India Chapter) twice, becoming the first player to do so.

In May 2006, the 16-year-old Saina became the first Indian woman and the youngest player from Asia to win a 4-star tournament – the Philippines Open showing her potential in the years to come.

Entering the tournament as the 86th seed, Saina went on to stun several top seeded players including the then World number four Xu Huaiwen before defeating Julia Wong Pei Xian of Malaysia for the title.

The same year Saina was also the runner up at the 2006 BWF World Junior Championships, where she lost a hard fought match against top seed Chinese Wang Yihan. She did one better in the 2008 by becoming the first Indian to win the World Junior Badminton Championships by defeating ninth seeded Japanese Sayaka Sato in straight sets.

She became the first Indian woman to reach the quarter finals at the Beijing Olympic Games when she upset world number five and fourth seed Wang Chen of Hong Kong in a three-game thriller. In the quarter-finals Saina lost a nail biting 3-gamer to world number 16 Maria Kristin Yulianti.

In September 2008, she won the Yonex Chinese Taipei Open 2008 beating Lydia Cheah Li Ya of Malaysia. Maria Yulianti had earlier lost her quarter-final match to Pia Bernadet, Saina’s semi-final opponent, thus denying Saina a rematch.

Saina was named “The Most Promising Player” in 2008. She reached the world super series semifinals in the month of December 2008.

On 21 June 2009, she became the first Indian to win a BWF Super Series title, the most prominent badminton series of the world by winning the Indonesia Open. She beat Chinese Wang Lin in the final. 

Saina is on the par with the likes of Prakash Padukone and her mentor Pullela Gopichand who both won the all England championships which are of similar status to the super series. In August 2009 she reached the quarterfinals of world championship losing to the second seed Wang Lin.

Saina successfully led the Indian Women Team to the Quarter-finals stage of the 2010 Uber Cup finals.

Saina became the first Indian Woman to reach the semi finals of 2010 All-England Super Series before losing to eventual champion Tine Rasmussen. Top seeded Saina reached the semifinals of Yonex Sunrise Badminton Asia Championships 2010 losing out to unseeded eventual champion Li Xuerui of China.

Saina won the 2010 India Open Grand Prix Gold, beating Wong Mew Choo of Malaysia in the final and thus justifying her billing as top seed in the tournament.

Nehwal, again seeded no.1 in the Singapore Open Super Series 2010, entered the finals defeating World champion Lu Lan of China. Saina won the second Super Series title of her career by beating qualifier Tai Tzu-Ying of Chinese Taipei in the final of the Singapore Open 21–18, 21–15.

Saina defended her Indonesia Open super series title in three tough games against Sayaka Sato of Japan, 21–19 , 13–21 , 21–11.This was her third super series title and her third successive title following wins at Indian open, Singapore Super series.

On 15 July 2010, with 64791.26 points Saina Nehwal reached a career high world ranking of No. 2 only behind Wang Yihan of China. Saina, a tournament favourite and 2nd Seed, crashed out of the 2010 BWF World Championships in Paris after losing to 4th ranked Chinese Wang Shixian in straight sets 8–21, 14–21.

She although equalled her tournament best performance, as she was also a losing quarter-finalist in the last edition held in Hyderabad. She subsequently dropped a spot to be No. 3 in the world rankings.

Top seed Saina, won the gold medal in the Women’s Singles badminton event in the 2010 Commonwealth Games held in New Delhi.She beat Wong Mew Choo of Malaysia 19–21 23–21 21–13.

After her win Saina said, “when I was a match-point down, it was like a shock. It was a big match and winning it means a lot to me. Even many years from now, those present here will always remember how Saina won the gold. It is a proud feeling”.

On 12 December 2010, Saina Nehwal defeated Wang Shixian 15–21, 21–16, 21–17 in the final of the 2010 Hong Kong Super Series to win her fourth career Super Series title.

2011-2015 Saina: the Conqueror or the Conquered?

4th seed Saina Nehwal crashed out of the 2011 Korea Open Super Series Premier on 27 January 2011 in the 2nd round.

5th seed Saina, was disappointed when she was defeated by Eriko Hirose of Japan at 2011 All England Super Series Premier on 11 March 2011. She was defeated in straight sets with a score of 21–11 and 22–20.

One week later, on March 2011, she met Eriko Hirose again (in the second round of the Wilson Badminton Swiss Open), but managed to win this time in three games 21–15, 17–21 and 21–11 – on her birthday. 2nd seed Saina Nehwal beat Ji Hyun Sung of South Korea 21–13, 21–14 to win theSwiss Open Grand Prix Gold badminton title on 20 March 2011. Saina posed an early exit from the Indian Open Super Series in Delhi. She disappointed the home crowd being defeated by Ai Goto of Japan in straight games 21–17 and 21–19 .

Saina Nehwal faltered after a good start as she lost to the then world number three Wang Xin of China in the finals to finish runner-up in the 2011 Malaysian Open Grand Prix Gold tournament on 8 May 2011.

Saina Nehwal participated in the 2011 BWF Double Star Sudirman Cup Mixed team event, she won her first match against Tzu Ying Tai of Chinese Taipei which was a tough three setter 21–10, 12–21 21–17, but India lost the tie 3–2.

She was then shocked in her second match by current Junior World Champion & 16-year-old teen sensation Ratchanok Inthanon of Thailand losing in straight sets 21–14, 22–20, but India managed to beat Thailand 3–2 in the tie to book a spot in the quarterfinals of the Elite mixed team event for the first time in the history of the tournament. In the quarterfinals against the mighty Chinese, Saina put up her best performance and beat the then World number two Xin Wang in straight sets 21–15, 21–11, but still the Chinese managed to move into the semi finals with a 3–1 win over India.

Defending Champion Saina lost to Cheng Shao-chieh of Chinese Taipei in the second round of Singapore Open Super Series. Saina, in her attempt to record a third straight win at the Indonesia Open Super Series Premier, reached the finals where she lost to Wang Yihan of China to finish as runner-up, in June.

Nehwal crashed out of World Championship 2011 as she lost 15–21, 10–21 to World Number 3 Wang Xin of China in a lop-sided women’s singles match. Saina, who reached the quarterfinals in the last two editions of the event, had to be contend with yet another last-eight finish. She lost in quarter finals of 2011 China Masters Super Series against World No. 1 Wang Yihan of China in straight games 8–21, 12–21. Saina lost in semi finals of 2011 Japan Super Series against Juliane Schenk of Germany in straight games 19–21, 10–21. In the 2011 Denmark Super Series Premier, she lost to 17-year-old teen Tai Tzu-ying of Taiwan in straight games 19–21, 13–21 in the second round.

Saina repeated her shocking second round exit in the 2011 French Super Series as she lost to World No. 16 Li Xuerui of China in straight games 18–21, 29–30. Saina lost in quarter finals of 2011 Hong Kong Super Series against World No. 7 Tine Baun of Denmark in straight games 16–21, 15–21.

Saina was defeated in the very first round of 2011 China Open Super Series Premier by World No. 8 Bae Youn-joo of South Korea 21–15, 22–24, 15–21.During the season ending tournament in December, Saina Nehwal created history by becoming the first Indian singles player to reach the final of BWF Super Series Masters Finals after defeating World No. 5Tine Baun of Denmark to cruise 21–17, 21–18 in the semifinals of the 2011 BWF Super Series Masters Finals in Liuzhou(China). She went on to lose the final 21–18, 13–21, 13–21 against the World No. 1 Chinese Wang Yihan in a contest lasting over an hour.

Saina successfully did her Swiss Open Title by defeating World No 2 Wang Shixian of China in two sets on 18 March 2012, a day after she turned 22 years old. On 10 June 2012, Saina defeated Thailand’s Ratchanok Inthanon 19–21 21–15 21–10, to lift the Thailand Open Grand Prix Gold title.

On June 2012, Saina Nehwal won the Indonesia Open Super Series by defeating World No. 3 Li Xuerui of China 13–21, 22–20 21–19. It was her 3rd Indonesia Open title.

August 2012, she won the bronze medal at the London Olympics when China’s Wang Xin retired from the match after an injury with the match at 18–21, 0–1 which was the first Olympic Medal India got for Badminton since it was introduced.

On October 2012, she won the Denmark Open Super Series Premier after defeating Wang Yihan 21-12 12-7 in the semifinal after she got retired hurt in this match after losing first set and trailing in second set.

In the final Saina defeated Juliane Schenk of Germany in two straight sets to lift her first Denmark open trophy.

2014 

On 26 January 2014 Saina defeated World Championship bronze medalist P.V. Sindhu 21-14, 21-17 to win the Women’s Singles of Indian Open Grand Prix Gold Tournament.

On March 2014 World No. 4 Saina Nehwal, who had a win-loss record of 4-2 against the Chinese ace Wang Shixian, crashed out of the 2014 All England Super Series Premier after losing her quarter-final match. Saina took revenge of All England loss by defeating Wang Shixian in semifinals of 2014 Australian Super Series. In final on June 29, 2014 Saina defeated Spain’s Carolina Marin 21-18, 21-11 to win Women’s Singles of 2014 Australian Super Series. The win helped her to reach the ranking of World no. 7, climbing two spots.

She became the 1st Indian woman to win the China Open Super Series Premier by beating Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi 21-12, 22-20 in the final.

She has a lot of firsts in Badminton!!!

2015:- It was a good year

Defending Champion Saina Nehwal won the 2015 India Open Grand Prix Gold by defeating Spain’s Carolina Marin in the Final. She became the first Indian woman shuttler to reach the finals of All England Open Badminton Championships, but lost to Carolina Marin in the final(A rivalry is born).

On 29 March 2015, Saina won her maiden women’s singles title at the India Open BWF Super Series beating Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand.

Thus, she became the first Indian women’s player to be World No.1 in badminton.

On 16th Aug 2015, Saina went down fighting to Carolina Marin again, in the Final of World Badminton Championships held in Jakarta, settling for the Silver.

2016- Poor Start but high hopes

Saina dealt with injuries in the starting of 2016 but she eventually recovered. She lost to the reigning Olympic Champion Li Xuerui in a hard fought match at the India Open in the semifinals.

She registered semifinal finishes at the India Open and Malaysia Open. She reached the semifinals of the Badminton Asia Championships after defeating the third seed Wang Shixian (21-16 21-19) in the quarterfinals, but lost to Wang Yihan in the semifinals. She settled for bronze, her second in the Asian Championships after 2010.

In June 2016, she competed at the Indonesia Open Superseries Premier, she reached the quarterfinals where she lost to the top seed Carolina Marin with the score of 22-24, 11-21.(Marin 3- 1 Saina)

At the Australian Super Series, after registering victories in straight games against unseeded players, Saina reached to the quarterfinals, where she won a hard-fought match against the second seed Ratchanok Intanon by 28–26, 21–16. 

After registering victory in the semifinals against the world no. 2 Wang Yihan by 21–8, 21–12, she won her first title of the year after defeating China’s Sun Yu in the final by 11–21, 21–14, 21–19.

She has set sights on her second Olympic medal in Rio 2016 and is training hard to achieve it.

She will have to shoulder the expectations of 1 billion people in the Rio Olympics.