A riveting contest at the Hamdan Sports Complex in Dubai on Thursday in the women's singles group game saw Carolina Marin of Spain get overpowered by India's Saina Nehwal in a dramatic three-setter. The score at the end of the game read 23-21 7-16 21-12 in favour of the Indian.
Saina produced an inspiring fight in the opening set to outclass the world number 1 in an enthralling contest.
She led 9-6 in the opening set, but the unforced errors troubled the Indian once again, as Marin quickly moved on to a 15-14 lead. The game was then locked in a decisive 20-20 score with some unending rallies. The score soon became 21-21, and it looked like Saina was getting it her way.
And it turned exactly that, as Marin tried a hard smash for the final shot of the opening set, but the shuttle found the net. The crucial point gave Saina the opening set 23-21.
The second set started with the same momentum, and it remained an edge-of-the-seat affair this time as well. Both the ladies fought it out tirelessly to produce a great display for the fans. It was the Spaniard's turn this time to turn the spotlight on herself as she delivered smashes after smashes to quickly move on to a 11-6 lead.
The lead for the 22-year-old Spanish glam girl increased to 16-7 in no time, and it looked like fatigue got the better of Saina after a gruelling first set. And there was no come back for the Indian sensation, as Marin took the second set 21-9.
Nobody knew the fate of the third set, as Saina went on to get a 8-5 lead quickly. The two ladies sweated out profusely and Saina was back to business once again as the lead increased to 15-8. The small contingent of Indian fans present in the indoor stadium knew the moment had come, and it did.
The applauses from the 'Saina Squad' present at the venue grew louder as she continued her series of smashes, but at the end it was Marin who gifted the Indian the set 21-12 after seeing her shot find the net.
Saina got a huge daylight now to progress to the next round.
In the men's singles match of the day, India's Kidambi Srikanth lost 13-21 18-21 in a 37-minute contest against Denmark's Viktor Axelsen to make things more difficult for him in the tournament.