New Delhi: It was a super Saturday for Indian badminton as both Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth reached their respective finals of the $275,000 India Open Superseries by earning straight game wins at the Siri Fort Sports Complex here.
Assured of becoming World No.1 on Thursday when the Badminton World Federation (BWF) releases its revised rankings, Saina came out on top in only 43 minutes to overcome unseeded Japanese Yui Hashimoto 21-15, 21-11 in the women's singles semi-final.
Later, men's singles World No.4 Srikanth eased into the final with a 21-16, 21-13 win in 43 minutes over China's Xue Song.
Top seeded Saina exacted revenge from Yui for her second round loss exactly two years ago here in the same tournament. The Olympic bronze medallist levelled her career record to 1-all against the Japanese.
World No.2 Saina will next take on 2013 winner and former World Champion Ratchanok Intanon in the final on Sunday. Earlier in the day, the Thai overcame reigning World Champion Carolina Marin of Spain 21-19, 21-23, 22-20 in a marathon battle that lasted an hour and 24 minutes.
Saina has a 5-3 advantage over the World No.8 in career meetings.
World No.37 Yui proved no match for Saina as the Indian won 42 of the 68 points played in the encounter. Though the Japanese showed spirit at the start of the contest, she could not persist with the high level of agility and speed to match Saina.
The second game was totally dominated by the Hyderabadi as she reached 20-6 in no time. Saina appeared a little lax at the end to waste five match-points before sealing the tie on her sixth attempt.
Come Thursday when BWF revises its rankings, Saina will become the first Indian woman to be ranked No.1. Following Carolina's semi-final loss to Ratchanok, the 25-year-old's way became clear to notch the top spot ahead of her own semi-final.
Spaniard Carolina and Saina were in the race to grab the coveted position in the absence of China's reigning Olympic champion Li Xuerui. It is only a formality for Saina, who will overtake Xuerui to become the first non-Chinese woman to be No.1 since December 2010 when Denmark's Tine Baun was the top ranked shuttler.
Later, second seed Srikanth unsurprisingly overcame Song to take a 2-1 lead in their head-to-head. He will take on Danish Viktor Axelsen in the final, whom the Indian defeated earlier this month in the Swiss Open Grand Prix Gold final at Basel in their only career meeting.