On Sunday, at the Odense Sports Park in Denmark six years on from her last and only title at the tournament, Saina had a chance at redemption.
After spending the majority of the previous year proving her fitness post her horrific knee injury, her steep climb back to the top was made tougher still.
After beating the likes of Nozomi Okuhara and Akane Yamaguchi in the round leading up to the final, Saina found Tai Tzu Ying in the waiting.
The world No. 1 is a mirror of her former self, some say. Times have changed and history is unforgiving.
In the final of the women’s singles, Saina got off to the worst possible start. A long lifted serve to begin the proceedings, was a bit too long.
Then the Taiwanese took over. Dictating the pace of the game with ease, as the 27-year-old Saina found it difficult to match the pace of her much younger opponent.
She did it again, play it long at the serve, to give Tai Tzu the opening going the break leading 11-5.
Some wise words from her fiancee Parupalli Kashyap, who has slowly started to ease into coaching himself, reinvigorated her. She returned fighting and dialled up her aggression. A perfect body smash knocked back some spirit in her game.
But she was still behind. Tai Tzu made sure it stayed that way and raced away to a 19-12 lead with a feigned cross-court drop as Saina slowly made her way over.
The game finished 21-13 in favour of Tai Tzu.
They changed sides and Saina’s fortunes changed along with it. The Indian got off to fiery start, letting her smashes speak, even Tai Tzu herself looked on stunned.
Saina had found her mojo back and more importantly her length. The drift from her end helping run riot against her 24 year old opponent from Taiwan.
She went into the break with a lead of 11-5.
She shrieked and shouted her way to comfortable lead with Tai Tzu eager to get the game over and done with. With every point she willed herself over to the side, as the smashes continued to rain down.
The match was tied apiece as Saina took the second game 21-13. Kashyap sat stone-faced and at the end of the final point, got up and walked over with a smile.
That was the last of smiles though, because as soon the third and last game started, it was clear for everyone who was winning.
Tai Tzu had been playing with a steady pace, unwilling to play it long into the rally but rather more than happy to prance over to the net and get a point.
If Saina had thought that was extent of her game, they were wrong. Tai Tzu moved into top gear and raced away to a comfortable 11-2 lead at the break.
The calls of ‘come on’ and yeah from Saina had dried up…she knew what was coming and after nearly an hour of badminton, she contemplated giving up.
Yet she did not, the fighter in her would not allow her. Huffing and puffing, clutching at thin air, Saina lost 21-6 to much younger, much better player.
The last time Saina defeated Tai Tzu was back in 2013, much has changed since then and now with the win on Sunday it becomes the 11th straight victory for the Taiwanese over the Indian.>