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Saina off to winning start in Hyderabad
« on: August 12, 2009, 12:46:05 PM »

Saina off to winning start in Hyderabad

Ace Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal [ Images ] hardly showed any fatigue from a recent bout of chickenpox as she stormed into the pre-quarterfinals of World Badminton Championships with a straight-game victory over Russian Anastasia Prokopenko in Hyderabad on Wednesday.

The 20-year-old, who was laid low by chicken pox just a few days before the championship, outplayed her rival 21-10, 21-17 in 27 minutes in the women's singles second round.

The local favourite faces Bulgarian Petya Nedelcheva on Thursday.

Among other Indians, men's doubles pair of Akshay Dewalkar and Jishnu Sanyal squandered a position of strength to go down 21-17, 13-21, 18-21 against 16th seed Vitalij Durkin and Alexandr Nikolaenko of Russia [ Images ] in 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, top seed Mi Zhou of Hong Kong beat Kiwi Michelle Chan Ky 21-11, 21-15, while men's number one seed Chong Wei Lee beat Ola Fagbemi of Nigeria 21-11, 21-14.

Mercurial world number four Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia defeated Mathieu Lo Ying Ping 21-17, 21-15 in another men's singles encounter.

Sixth seed Saina, who got a bye in the first round, started aggressively and opened up a 12-8 lead in little time. Leading 16-8 after that, Saina smashed five straight points to pocket the first game easily.

However, she struggled a bit in the next game as a change of ends led to slower drift for her.

In a battle of nerves, the two rivals went neck and neck from 5-5 to 14-14 but after a see-saw battle, it was the Hyderabadi who had the last laugh.

"In the first game, the drift was fast so I played a more attacking game and hit more smashes. She couldn't pick up those but in the same game I was on the other side, so knowing the wind I involved her in some long rallies," Saina told reporters.

"I have played her for the first time but yesterday I saw her play. She has some good drives. I was confident about my game and I am happy that I started on the right note," she added.

The world number six Indian also asserted she was completely fit.

"I am fit and I didn't feel too tired. She was an okay player but tomorrow I play a much tougher opponent, my fitness will be tested," she said.

About the ubiquitous crowd which cheered her every move, Saina said she was hoping for the spectator-count to go up with every match.

"It wasn't very different. I wasn't tense but I think it's good for the game that so many people are cheering the players. It has been a very good support and I hope more crowds will turn up tomorrow," she said.

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Re: Saina off to winning start in Hyderabad
« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2009, 05:33:59 PM »

Saina crashes out of World Badminton Championships
PTI 14 August 2009, 09:22pm IST
HYDERABAD: Curtains were drawn on India's campaign at the World Badminton Championship following defeats of Saina Nehwal and mixed doubles pair of Jwala Gutta and V Diju on Friday. ( Watch Video )

Saina squandered a healthy 9-1 lead in the second game to lose the singles quarter-final 16-21 19-21 to Chinese second seed Lin Wang a 39-minute contest.

Saina had defeated Lin in June to lift the Indonesian Super Series title.

"She (Lin) was better prepared today. She was defending well. I made a few silly mistakes but I am happy with my performance. She played better at net and involved in more tabs and pushes which shows she was prepared," Saina said.

"I reached the pre-quarters in 2007 and this time I have reached quarters and I have beaten the top 10 players so I'm satisfied," she added.

Saina had a rusty start as she allowed Lin to open up a seven point lead and even though the Hyderabadi drew parity with a power-puffed smash at 11-11, she couldn't keep the momentum.

The world number six took a different approach in the next game and engaged her opponent in long rallies and got to a handsome 9-1 but the Chinese was better prepared and reeled off eight straight points to claw her way back to the game and wrapped up the match in her favour.

In a day marked by a series of upsets, men's top seed Lee Chong Wei and women's top seed Zhou Mi of Hong Kong also crashed out of the elite event.

World number one Lee failed to live upto the expectation as Indonesian Sony Dwi Kuncoro produced the biggest upset of the tournament, dispatching the Malaysian 21-16 14-21 21-12 in the quarter-finals.

"I just couldn't play well today. I had pulled things back in the second game but I don't know what happened in the third game," Lee said.

"Sony is no ordinary player, he has beaten me before and he raised the bar today. I wasn't under any pressure nor I had any problem with the conditions," he added.

Sony, on the other hand, said he was not afraid of attacking whenever he got a chance, which paid dividends at the end.

In the women's singles, fifth seed Chinese Xingfang Xie sent world number one Zhou Mi of Hong Kong packing with a straight-game victory.

Xingfang, who won the World Championships in 2005 and 2006 besides a silver medal in Beijing Olympics, outplayed the her top seed opponent 21-15 21-18 in a 47-minute match.

"It was a very close match even though the scoreline might suggest otherwise. I was more patient then Zhou especially in the second game. When we both were 18-all, I held my nerves and didn't commit any mistake," said Xingfang after the match.

The 2003 World Championship semifinalist, Zhou Mi had retired from badminton in 2005. She did not play any tournaments in 2006 and moved to Hong Kong from China before re-emerging during in 2007.

Xingfang next faces eighth seed Hongyan Pi of France in the semi-finals on Saturday.

Hongyan reached the first semifinal of her career in a world championship on Friday after she beat Juliane Schenk 15-21 21-15 21-19 in another quarter-final.

Seventh seed Lan Lu stunned third seed Tine Rasmussen 21-15 21-13 in just over an half an hour match.

In another the men's singles quarter-finals, Indonesia's Taufik Hidayat survived a scare from Dane Jan O Jorgensen and beat him 21-19 21-19 in a 42-minute clash, while second seed Chinese Jin Chen beat 13th seed Simon Santoso of Indonesia 21-10 21-13 in 43 minutes.

Fifth seed and defending champion Chinese Dan Lin also staved off the challenge from third seed Peter Hoeg Gade 22-20 21-16 in 49-minute match.

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