Jakarta: Olympic bronze medallist Saina Nehwal today became the first Indian to reach the finals of the World Badminton Championships, assuring herself of at least a silver medal here.
The World No.2 Indian notched up a 21-17 21-17 win over Indonesia's Lindaweni Fanetri, who was struggling with her right knee, in the semifinals of the women's singles.
In a repeat to this year's All England Championship final, second seed Saina will fight it out with defending champion and World No. 1 Carolina Marin of Spain in the summit clash tomorrow.
It would be India's fifth medal at the World Championship after P V Sindhu clinched the bronze twice in 2013 and 2014 and Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa notched up a bronze in women's doubles at the 2011 edition.
Legendary shuttler Prakash Padukone was the first Indian to win a bronze at the 1983 edition.It turned out to be a tight match as Saina and Lindaweni, who was playing with a strapping on her right knee, engaged in long rallies and gave each other a tough fight at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium.
Lindaweni opened up a 6-2 lead early on in the first game as Saina tried to get a hang of the drift in the stadium. The Indonesian had to take some tips from the team doctor after feeling some pain in her knee at 7-6.
The Indonesian looked restricted in her movement as Saina clawed back at 9-9 and grabbed the lead next when Lindaweni hit wide. A service fault helped Lindaweni to level score at 10-10 but Saina went into the break with a 11-10 lead after winning a long rally.
After the interval, Saina increased the gap to 15-12 but the Indian committed a few unforced errors to allow Lindaweni draw parity at 15-15. A net fault and a wide shot by the Indonesian gave Saina a 18-16 lead.