She has already won many an important contest in her career. And in the process won an Olympic medal as well at London 2012. But a world championship medal continued to elude her. First it was chicken pox and then it was fever. And in other years it was Wang Yihan who Saina has now defeated twice in the last twelve months in tournaments that matter the most. In the All England Championships where Saina was runner up to Carolina Marin, she went past the lanky Chinese and now once again at Jakarta she has broken through the Chinese stranglehold. This victory is special because Saina well and truly won an epic. The scream that she let out at winning the final point was indicative of what the victory meant to her - it meant she can now have a realistic crack at that elusive world title, which no Indian has ever won.
That she would go past Lindaweni Fanetri in the semi final was a given. There is little doubt Saina is a more accomplished shuttler in comparison to the 29th ranked Indonesian, who despite the raucous home support, never really managed to push her. And now she stares at history. And now once again she is up against familiar foe Carolina Marin. She has already lost the All England title to the Spaniard and will surely want to avenge her defeat. But sport is not about revenge. Never was and never will be. It is all about trying to achieve excellence at the highest stage of all and that’s where Saina will now need to be at her best come Sunday. In a nation starved of sporting greats, she has already ignited a passion that is infectious. In her and Sania we have two champions who are serious role models for many a girl child. And most importantly with just a year left for the all important Rio Games, Saina’s form does give us hope. That she can better the bronze medal she had won in London and have a crack at that elusive Olympic gold medal.
For the moment, though, all her focus is at the world title in Jakarta. Can she go past Carolina Marin? Can she create history and give her fans something incredible to cheer about? Terrific stamina, great skill, solid temperament and experience of the big stage tell us that she can. It is important she does so and breaks the final jinx and also the psychological edge that Carolina Marin may be enjoying over her. Her performance against Wang Yihan is proof enough that Saina can go the distance. At London 2012 she was no match against Yihan. Now it is different. Saina believes she can and twice she has proved her ability against Yihan. Against Marin she will perhaps start as the underdog. Not the worst thing in a high pressure final. And it is well known that underdogs, more often than not, go on to script history. Super Saina, one can hope, will add to her legend on Sunday.