Hyderabad: Star shuttler Saina Nehwal accounted for higher-ranked Juliane Schenk in a hard-fought contest as Hyderabad Hotshots thrashed Pune Pistons 3-0 and booked a berth for the summit clash in the inaugural Indian Badminton League here.
Hyderabad's icon player Saina survived some anxious moments before prevailing over Schenk 21-10, 19-21, 11-8 in a tight women's singles contest after Ajay Jayaram pulled off a surprising victory over the top-ranked Tien Minh Nyugen 21-17, 21-11 in men's singles in the first match.
Hyderabad pair of Goh V Shem and Wah Lim Khim then defeated Pune's Joachim Fischer and Sanave Thomas 16-21, 21-14, 11-7 in men's doubles to take their side to the final
at the GMC Balayogi indoor stadium.
The match between Saina and Schenk, currently world number four and number three respectively, proved to be an exciting battle marked by long rallies, powerful smashes and drop shots as both tried to outsmart each other. The first game went in Saina's favour as she managed to expand her initial lead of 7-3 at the time of the first break to a massive 14-4 by the second interval.
Saina gained momentum as the game progressed and some unforced errors proved to be the undoing for her German opponent who conceded the first game 10-21. Schenk, however, put up a tough fight in the second game which witnessed long rallies between the two as they did not
let any opportunity to score go by.
Saina had an edge of 7-6 by the first break and succeeded in taking it to 14-8 by the second interval. Schenk, however, staged a remarkable comeback and levelled the score at 18-18
before taking the game at 21-19.
The decider was a keenly-fought between the two celebrated players and the spectators were on the edge of their seats. Cheered by the home spectators who enjoyed every bit of the
rallies and powerful smashes, Saina finished the duel at 11-8.