Kirsty Gilmour rates 2018 CWG semis against Saina as ‘toughest’ 

Scotland’s Gilmour had stretched Nehwal to three games before going down in the semis of the 2018 Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast.

By Naveen Peter

Indian badminton fans remember the 2018 Commonwealth Games for the epic women’s singles final that saw two greats -- Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu -- go head-to-head for the ultimate prize.

While the gold-medal match at Gold Coast lived up to its billing with Saina Nehwal carving out a hard-fought 21-18, 23-21 win against Sindhu, what made the victory even sweeter was that it came on the back of a gruelling semi-final.

Up against the fourth seed Kirsty Gilmour of Scotland, Saina Nehwal was stretched to the distance at the Carrara Sports and Leisure Centre in this scenic coastal city of Queensland.

Having seen and studied the Indian badminton ace all throughout her career, Kirsty Gilmour came into the last-four tie determined to make her opponent work for every point. 

“I had played a three-game match against her in Glasgow in 2017 (at the BWF World Badminton Championships) and had good confidence going in,” the Scot would tell Indian shuttler Sanjana Santosh during an Instagram live session.

Kirsty Gilmour of Scotland took home the bronze medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games

“Moreover, I had fared well in the tournament till then. Like, I barely had any stiff competition. I was fresh.” 

However, though the 26-year-old Gilmour did her best to take the fight to Saina Nehwal, the London 2012 Olympics bronze medallist ensured that she didn’t lose sight of her target and made it to the final.

“I am not going to lie as it was a very tough game. I played some crazy badminton that day but I lost against Saina. That was probably the hardest day of my career so far,” Kirsty Gilmour recalled.

Saina Nehwal won the match 21-14, 18-21, 21-17 in a contest that lasted an hour and five minutes. 

In each of the three games, Saina Nehwal opened an early lead - 5-0, 4-0 and 7-2 - before Kirsty Gilmour fought back and closed the gap.

The Scot, however, wasn’t allowed to settle down in the third and succumbed to her opponent.

Gilmour did go on to bag the bronze medal later that evening after she upstaged Canada’s Michelle Li 21-11, 21-16 in straight games.

Saina or Sindhu, Kirsty Gilmour decides

Over the years, the Scot has played both Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu. While Saina Nehwal has been an overpowering force, winning all of their seven encounters so far, Kirsty Gilmour has enjoyed some success against Sindhu.

But despite a 1-1 head-to-head against the Rio 2016 Olympics silver medallist, the Scot believes it’s the lanky Sindhu who has often created trouble for her on court. 

“I think the way I play, it’s quite similar to Saina and I think I prefer her style,” Gilmour said. 

“So I think Sindhu is slightly tougher for me to play as compared to Saina. But that’s largely down to the similarities that we have.”