Saina Goes Down Fighting, India's Challenge Ends in World Badminton

Avishek Roy / IANS

Hyderabad, Aug 15: The Indian challenge in the World Badminton Championships ended Friday after top medal contender and sixth-seed Saina Nehwal went down fighting 16-21, 19-21 to second-seed Lin Wang of China in women's singles quarterfinals here.

Saina could not repeat her Indonesian Open success against the world No.2 at the Balayogi Indoor Stadium at Gachibowli.

She was India's last medal hope in the tournament after the eighth-seeded mixed doubles pair of Valiyaveetil Diju and Jwala Gutta lost 16-21, 14-21 to defending champions and second-seeded Indonesian pair of Nova Widianto and Liliyana Natsir.

It was also a day of upsets, as both the top seed in men's and women's singles draw crashed out of the tournament.

In men's singles, top seed Lee Chong Wei lost 16-21, 21-14, 12-21 to Indonesian sixth seed Sony Dwi Kuncoro.

In women's section, top seed Zhou Mi of Hong Kong went down to fifth-seed Xie Xingfang of China 15-21, 18-21 while seventh-seed Lan Lu of China stunned third-seeded Dane Tine Rasmussen 21-15, 21-13 in 31 minutes to enter the semi-finals.

Fifth-seed Xie's opponent in the semi-final is France's eighth seed Pi Hongyan, who defeated 11th seed Juliane Schenk of Germany 15-21, 21-15, 21-19 in an hour-long duel. The other semi-final will be an all Chinese affair between Lu and Lin.

Men's defending champion Lin Dan of China, however, remained on course for a hatrick of singles titles as he staved off a fierce challenge from veteran Dane Peter Gade 22-20, 21-16 to move into the semi-final.

Seasoned campaigner from Indonesia, Taufiq Hidayat, too, had to face a tough fight before prevailing over giant-killer unseeded Dane Jan O Jorgensen 21-19, 21-19.

In the men's semi-finals, Hidyat will meet second seed Chinese Chen Jin, who beat Indonesia's Simon Santoso 21-10, 21-13 while Kuncoro will take on Lin.

A huge crowd that turned out to support the city girl Saina witnessed a brilliant fight-back from the 19-year-old but they were disappointed with her loss.

The Indian had defeated Lin to claim her first Super Series title in Indonesia, but on Thursday night it was the Chinese who called the shots.

Wang showed composure and remained calm despite the crowd using all its vocal power to cheer Saina.

But the scoreline was not the true reflection of Saina's valiant efforts.

Saina started badly in the first game and was down 1-8 from where she picked herself and drew at 12-12. But Lin came back with some deceptive drop shots and net placings to pocket the first game comfortably.

Saina also displayed some brilliant net play and powerful smashes in the second game, opening up a huge lead of 10-2, but Lin fought back and pocketed seven points to win the game.

The Indian said she was outplayed by Lin.

"I played well but she was simply good today. She was defending very well and her net play was also good. I was not tired and feeling better, but she was well prepared," Saina said.

"She was pushing and tapping at the nets and scoring points. I made some mistakes also. I am happy with my performance since in the last World Championships, I lost in the pre-quarters. This time I have gone a step ahead."


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Title: Saina Goes Down Fighting, India's Challenge Ends in World Badminton

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