Badminton Life

India's Nehwal Wins Taiwan Open

India believe they have unearthed a new female star.

Saina Nehwal helped to raise the profile of Indian badminton when she won the Taiwan Grand Prix title in Taipei, beating Malaysia's Lydia Cheah in the final.

For many years, it is India's men who have made the headlines, with Prakash Padukone and Pullela Gopichand both winning All England men's singles titles.

Nehwal, however, has emerged on the scene over the past couple of years and has earned a string of decent results.

The 18-year-old, ranked 14th in the world, beat Cheah 21-8, 21-19 for her second international title following her success at the Philippines Open in 2006.

Although a Grand Prix tournament is not has important as a Super Series event, at such a young age, Nehwal has plenty to look forward to in the future.

The Hyberabad native She was quoted as saying in the Indian media: "Though my win in Philippines is very close to my heart as it was my first major title, this definitely ranks above all."

Nehwal had a good run at the Olympic Games, reaching the quarter-finals and her victory in Taipei means she is the first Indian women to triumph in a Grand Prix gold tournament.

Such was the significance of her victory in India that government officials rushed to congratulate her.

Speaker Somnath Chatterjee was reported to have said: "Saina has put up a spirited performance to reach the quarter-finals in the Olympics and will go on to bring many more laurels to the country. I wish her all the best."

Second-seeded Nehwal had to go through a tough route to get to the final, beating Singapore's Fu Mingtian and Hong Kong's Kwan Yi-mong before overcoming Thailand's Porntip Buranaprasertsuk in three games.

In the semi-finals she defeated Indonesia's Pia Zebadiah Bernadet before taking on Cheah in the final.

Cheah was helped in her road to the final by German top seed Zu Huaiwen's decision to skip the tournament.

Xu gave her first-round opponent, Japan's Oku Yukina a walkover, and Cheah was able to beat Yukina in the second round, though in two tough games.

In the quarter-finals, she beat another Japanese, Mayu Sekiya before reaching the final after beating Taiwanese hope Chiu Yi-ju.

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