New Delhi: Riding a tidal wave of support and the electrifying ambience at the Siri Fort Sports Complex here, Saina Nehwal and P.V. Sindhu carried India into the semi-finals of the Uber Cup for the first time ever, blanking Indonesia 3-0 on Thursday. With the hosts taking a 2-0 advantage, Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa made the remaining two rubbers redundant with a 21-18, 21-18 win over Greysia Polii and Nitya Krishinda Maheswari in the first doubles.
India’s previous best performance in the Uber Cup was a quarterfinal finish in 2010. They now meet Japan for a place in the final. If Saina was impressive against Lindaweni Fanetri, Sindhu — in the second singles against Bellaetrix Manuputty — proved she was even grittier as she saved two match points in the decider at 19-20 and 21-20 before pulling it off 21-16, 10-21, 25-23 in an edge-of-the-seat battle.
World number eight Saina overcame Lindaweni 21-17, 21-10 in the first singles. She started on a sluggish note, struggling with her strokes to trail 5-11 at the break. A change of tactics by the Indian, of pushing her opponent back worked for Saina, as Lindaweni struggled to reach the net. At 16-12, Saina mixed rallies with angled drops to take seven points on the trot to snatch the lead.
In the second, Saina kept up the momentum and hardly gave any chances to Lindaweni to come back. “Sometimes you don’t start the match very well, today was one such day, but I am happy I could pull it off from that situation. She (Lindaweni) is a good player with good shots and hard smashes. But I knew if I can beat Ratchanok, I can beat the others,” said Saina.