London: The abject surrender of mixed doubles pair of Jwala Gutta and V. Diju notwithstanding, the Indian fans are expected to return to the Wembley Arena on Sunday to watch Saina Nehwal begin her campaign for a medal.
To add to the interest, Parupalli Kashyap, India’s most consistent player in the men’s section, advanced to the second round, defeating Yuhan Tan of Belgium 21-14, 21-12 in 38 minutes.
Things, however, did not go well for Jwala and Diju. They lost their opening group league match against All-England champion Indonesian pair of Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir 16-21, 12-21 in only 25 minutes.
Despite Kashyap’s authoritative win, the focus would remain on Saina, one India’s medal hopefuls in the 81-member contingent. The 22-year-old Hyderabad girl’s first round opponent in the three-player preliminary group would be Swiss star Sabrina Jacquet.
“I feel excited at the very prospect of playing an Olympic. It is a lifetime opportunity for any sportsperson to take part in the greatest show on earth. There is no doubt I will give my bestů after all, I am here as my nation’s representative,” the world No. 5 told The Telegraph.
“I have developed as a player. This is my second Olympics and I am more experienced now and I know how to relax. I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself,” added the 22-year-old.
Later, Jwala faced her second defeat of the day when she paired up with Ashwini Ponnappa to lose the opening match in the women’s doubles. They were beaten by the Japanese duo of Mizuki Fujii and Reika Kakiiwa. The Indian pair was thrashed 16-21, 18-21 in 45 minutes in their Group B match.