If India’s dismal showing in the Rio 2016 Olympics wasn’t already bothering people and leaving many hearts broken, it just got worse. Saina Nehwal lost her second group stage encounter 18-21, 19-21 to World No 61 Ukraine’s Maria Ulitina to crash out of the competition.
Saina crashes out, As it happened:
1826 hrs IST: Saina sends drop shot into the net and she’s lost this! WOW! Saina loses 18-21, 19-21
1825 hrs IST: At 19-19, another magnificent cross court smash. Match point Ulitina
1824 hrs IST: Beautiful jump and angled smash by Ulitina. Leads 19-18
1824 hrs IST: Saina pulls one back with two smashes – one to set it up and then straight into the body 18-18
1823 hrs IST: 17-17 in the second set now. Poor judgement by Saina on the serve and it is 18-17 to the Ukranian
1818 hrs IST: Saina Nehwal does not look in the best of shape. Not moving as well as she does, struggled in the first match and now too. Not doing well with picking drop shots or angled shots. Even at 14-14
1817 hrs IST: Saina Nehwal up 11-10 in the second set
1810 hrs IST: Poor bit of play by Saina to not judge a deep return well and then sending the shuttle tamely wide on the next point. Still pretty even. Saina down 8-9
1805 hrs IST: Saina Nehwal loses first set 18-21 with her angled backhand going wide
1805 hrs IST: Great rally with Saina showing strong attacking play and Ulitina good defensive work. 20-18, one game point saved
1804 hrs IST: Well placed smash by Ulitina and she leads 19-17
1803 hrs IST: Saina’s backhand is into the net with the shot going down the line. 18-17 to the Ukranian
1802 hrs IST: Saina with a lovely deft touch at the net. The Ukranian can’t send it back. 17-17
1802 hrs IST: Ulitina in the lead now after picking a fierce smash. Saina didn’t read the response well
1801 hrs IST: Saina finding it tough to eclipse her opponent. All even at 16-16
1754 hrs IST: Nice drop by Saina on the serve and it is not returned by Ulitina. Leads 11-9 at the break in the first set
1752 hrs IST: Good comeback now by Ulitina to reduce the advantage to just two. Lovely smash into Saina’s body and it is 6-8
1750 hrs IST: Saina has taken a good lead now. 6-1 to the Indian
1748 hrs IST: Saina follows it up with lovely wrist work from the back to send a deceiving drop shot
1745 hrs IST: The players are on court. Maria Ulitina of Ukraine starts by winning the first point
Saina Nehwal faced tough resistance from Brazilian player Lohaynny Vicente but did just about enough at crucial junctures to post a win on the start of the tournament. She won 21-17, 21-17 in a match that lasted 39 minutes.
Saina is the number five seed in the competition and bears medal aspirations in the singles event. She would also be keen to improve her bronze medal showing at the London Olympics.
Vicente imposed herself on Saina with lovely deft touches and cleverly disguised drop shots to keep Saina guessing and at bay.
Saina started brightly to take a 6-2 lead in the first game but that is when the Brazilian came back into things to reduce the deficit. At the break, Saina lead 11-10.
The close contest continued after the water break with the two players locked at 17-17. Then Saina turned on the charm to win four points in a row to win the first game 21-17.
In the second game, Saina squandered her early lead once again to go from 11-5 to 14-11.
With the match being extended and Saina getting into the thick of things, Vicente started to lose grip of the match.
Soon enough, Saina brought on six match points to make it 20-14.
The Brazilian won three points in a row to delay the inevitable which happened after 17 minutes in the second game as Saina won the second game by 21-17 too.
Next up for Saina is Ukraine’s Maria Ulitina.