Indian badminton superstar Saina Nehwal received a huge boost ahead of the Rio Olympics as she clinched her second Australian Open title after defeating China's Sun Yu in a thrilling three-game final of the Super Series badminton tournament in Sydney on Sunday.
The 26-year-old from Hyderabad wrung out a final score of 11-21, 21-14, 21-19 over the World No. 12 in a fighting summit clash that lasted an hour and 11 minutes.
London Olympics bronze medallist, Saina, who had beaten two world champions – Thailand's Ratchanok Intanon (2013) and China's Yihan Wang (2011) in the quarterfinals and semifinals –, thus clinched her maiden title of the season and pocketed a cheque of USD 56,250.
This is Saina's second Australian Open victory, having clinched the title in 2014 as well. It ended a rather long title drought for the celebrated Indian, whose previous title before today was at the India Super Series in New Delhi in 2015.
Saina had defeated Sun five times in the last five outings but she faced a tough challenge against the 22-year-old Chinese, who took just 18 minutes to wrap up the opening game at the Sydney Olympic Park.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted his congratulations to Saina after her victory.
"Congratulations @NSaina for the stupendous victory. The entire nation is very proud of your sporting accomplishments," he wrote.
Cricketer Shikhar Dhawan and Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan also took to the social networking platform to congratulate Saina.
"Congratulations @NSaina on your second Australian open title! You make us PROUD!" wrote Dhawan.
Bachchan tweeted:"@NSaina .. you continue to make us proud to be an Indian .. well done ..Champion at Australian Open!!"