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May 29, 2017

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India's Nehwal reaches Denmark final

India's Saina Nehwal is showing signs of fulfilling the potential that earned her a recent US$7.4 million deal by reaching the Denmark Open badminton final after her world number one-ranked opponent retired with a knee injury.

The 22-year-old world number four was leading 21-12, 12-7 against Wang Yihan on Saturday when her Chinese opponent limped off the court at Odense.

Pitted against the woman who had thrashed her 21-13, 21-13 in the Olympic semifinals in London, Nehwal proved too strong for Wang, who was clearly hampered by the damaged knee.

Coach Pullela Gopichand said the result was a massive confidence boost for Nehwal ahead of her future battles against the Chinese contingent, who make up four of the world's top-five players.

Nehwal has established herself the face of Indian badminton since winning the Indonesian Open in 2009 and became the first shuttler from her country to win an Olympic medal when she returned with a bronze from this summer's London Games.

Her efforts were rewarded last month when Nehwal signed a three-year deal with a sports management company that, according to media reports, made her the highest paid Indian sportsperson outside of cricket.

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