Pune, Oct 18: Saina Nehwal went through some anxious moments before winning the girls' singles gold in the third Commonwealth Youth Games, at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex, in Pune, on Friday.
India's top woman shuttler and Beijing Olympics quarter-finalist was made to sweat by 15-year-old Sikki Reddy before posting a 23-21, 22-20 victory on the fifth and penultimate day of the Games.
The bronze medal went to Panuga Riou of England, who beat Malaysia's Tiffany Currier Chase 18-21, 21-16, 21-16.
However, Sikki did get an opportunity to lay her hands on gold. She partnered P C Thulasi to beat Mary Alexandra Bruce and Shan Michelle Li Man of Canada in the doubles final.
In the men's singles top seed Guru Sai Dutt endured a tough challenge from countryman Aditya Prakash before prevailing 21-18, 20-22, 21-18.
Martin Campbell of Scotland won the bronze medal.
It needed a string of unforced errors from Sikki to enable Saina pocket the first game after she was down 17-18. Saina capitalised on her opponent's errors to take the lead at 20-18.
Sikki bounced back to level scores at 21-21 but then the India No 1 drew on all her experience to close the game with a spectacular smash.
The second game was no different as each time Saina tried to put Sikki on the mat, she would bounce back.
Saina extended her lead to 6-2 before Sikki closed down the gap to 8-5. Some errors by the Hyderabadi ace saw Sikki back on level terms at 9-9 before the 15-year-old opened up a two-point lead.
With the game oscillating from one to the other, it was Saina's turn to forge ahead. She was just two points away from victory at 19-13 when her opponent won four consecutive points as the crowd egged her own.
However, an overhead smash helped Saina stretch her lead and when Sikki's shot went beyond the line, the match was all over.
Saina lauded her opponent, who also trains at the Gopichand Academy.
"Sikki has been playing very well recently... She is giving a tough fight to all the players. She can go well from here," she said.