Saina Nehwal (born 17 March 1990) is an Indian badminton player. The first Indian girl to win a super series and the only non-Chinese player in the badminton top-six list, Ms. Saina Nehwal stunned all by completing a spectacular hat-trick of titles by clinching the Indonesia Open Super Series in Jakarta on June 17, 2010. She defeated Japan's Sayaka Sato in a three-game set. Before it, she had won the Indian Open Grand Prix at home and the Singapore Open Super Series on June 20, 2010. She had lifted the Singapore Open Super Series title by defeating a higher-ranked Chinese, Lin Wang. On June 24, 2010 she was declared as World No. 3 by the Badminton World Federation.
The 20-year-old ace badminton player Ms. Nehwal's parents, Dr. Harvir Singh and Ms. Usha Nehwal, are former badminton champions of Haryana. At present, her father is a scientist at the Directorate of Oilseeds Research, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh.
Ms. Nehwal started training for the game when she was only 8 years old. Her father encouraged her and introduced her to the coach, Mr. Nani Prasad. As Ms. Nehwal got enrolled as a summer trainee, a rigorous training schedule began. She had to go to the stadium, 25 km away from her residence, in the early morning with her father and join school on her way back home. Later on, she had to practice in the evening session too. Her father had to withdraw money from his savings and provident fund to meet the rising cost of her training in the beginning. But later on, sports brand Yonex, BPCL and Mittal Champions Trust supported her expenses.
Ms. Nehwal attracted the global attention in 2006, when she became the first Indian woman to win a 4-star tournament, the Philippines Open. In this tournament, she went on a winning spree defeating several top seeded players including top seed Huwaiwen Xu and finally bagging the title by beating Julia Xian Pei Wong of Malaysia. The same year, she also reached the final of BWF World Junior Championships but lost to the top seed Chinese Wang Hian. But in 2008, she became the first Indian to win the World Junior Badminton Championship when she defeated ninth seed Japanese Sayaka Sato. She was named the Most Promising Player in 2008. In December that year, she also reached World Super Series Semifinals. On June 21, 2009 she became the first Indian to win BWF Super Series title, the most prestigious badminton series of the world, by winning the Indonesia Open. She defeated Chinese Wang Lin. Before that she had also won the Yonex Chinese Taipei Open. She has also become the first Indian woman to reach the quarter finals at the Olympic Games. In August 2009, she was conferred Arjuna Award. In recognition of her invaluable contribution to the field of sports, the Government of India conferred the coveted Padma Shri on her in 2010 as well. She always ignores ranking points and focuses her attention on her game. Her strategy has yielded very good results and she is poised to add many more feathers to her cap.