Following reigning World Champion Carolina Marin’s semi-final loss to Ratchanok Intanon at the India Open Superseries here on Saturday, Saina’s way became clear to notch the top spot ahead of her own semi-final, which she plays later in the day.
Spaniard Carolina and Saina were in the race to grab the coveted position in the absence of China’s top ranked Li Xuerui.
It is only a formality for the 25-year-old Saina who will overtake reigning Olympic champion Xuerui on Thursday to become the first non-Chinese woman to be No.1 since December 2010 when Denmark’s Tine Baun was the top ranked shuttler. Meanwhile, Saina on Saturday reached her maiden women’s singles final of the $2,75,000 India Open Superseries by defeating Japan’s Yui Hashimoto in straight games 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 44 minutes to overcome the unseeded Japanese 21-15, 21-11.
The top seed exacted revenge from Yui for her second round loss exactly two years ago here in the same tournament. It was the only time the two met previously.
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. Later, the World No. 37 proved no match for Saina as the Indian won 42 of the 68 points played in the match. 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 Olympic bronze medallist as she reached 20-6 in no time. Saina appeared a little lax to waste five matchpoints before sealing the tie on her sixth attempt.