Saina continues to be Indian badminton’s flag bearer
Though other Indian shuttlers made their mark in the international scene, it was, as expected, Saina Nehwal who was the country’s flag bearer for the sport in 2015.
Saina started the year on a brilliant note by winning the India Grand Prix Gold in Lucknow, beating reigning World Champion Carolina Marin in the final. She backed it up with her lone Superseries title in March – India Open – which she won here, defeating former World Champion Ratchanok Intanon in the summit clash.
She also reached the finals of three extremely prestigious events – All-England, World Championships and China Open. The Khel Ratna awardee also achieved quite a few number of firsts this season.
The 25-year-old became the first Indian since Pullela Gopichand to reach the All-England final which the chief national coach had won way back in 2001. The Hyderabadi also became the first Indian to reach the final of the Worlds in August. She lost both finals to Carolina.
The Hisar-born was also on her way to defend the China Open Superseries Premier but lost to reigning Olympic champion Li Xuerui of China. Then she also became the first Indian woman shuttler to become World No.1 She and Carolina kept exchanging the top spot for most of the year.
With her consistent performances, she also qualified for the year-ending World Superseries Finals in Dubai for the second successive year where she failed to qualify for the semi-finals and was recently nominated again for the Badminton World Federation (BWF) Female Player of the Year Award.