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.
World No 5 Nehwal played poorly with multiple errors in judgement and in retrieving drops and angled shots. Also, Ulitina showed better court coverage and defensive shots to rarely allow the Hyderabadi to settle in.
In the first set, Saina started brightly to lead 6-1 helped by her attacking play and nervy start by Ulitina. Then the Ukranian grew into the competition with her deft touches and angles.
Poor movement by Saina hurt her throughout the match with Ulitina playing multiple smashes into the body and away from Saina to build up the point. She reduced the gap in the first to 17-17. Then she ran away with three points to bring up surprise set points. Saina saved one in a good rally but Ulitina won the first set after her backhand sailed wide.
In the second set, there was no gap for either players with cagey contest prevailing from start till the end. It continued till 18-18 before angled smash by Ulitina created an opening which was then closed by Saina.
Ulitina then sent another good smash back to bring up match point. With luck on her side, the Ukranian enjoyed success as the shuttle hit the net and toppled over. Saina unfortunately couldn’t send it back to lose and bring to an end her campaign in Rio.