New Delhi: It was a day of disappointment for the home fans in the India Open Super Series on Friday when two of country’s best hopes — Saina Nehwal and Parupalli Kashyap — crashed out at the quarter-final stage of the $250,000 tournament.
The exit of Saina and Kashyap also ended the Indian challenge in the tournament. The weekend would see the Chinese players dominating the semi-finals.
At the Siri Fort Sports Complex, both Saina and Kashyap played their hearts out but could do little against their powerful rivals and lost in straight games.
While China’s Yihan Wang, the former world champion, vanquished Saina 21-16, 21-14, world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia entertained the fans with his wide range of strokeplay before beating Kashyap 21-15, 21-13 in 40 minutes.
Saina had lost to Wang seven times in their previous eight meetings. On Friday, she could hardly do anything to reverse the trend.
Barring a brief 3-2 lead Saina took at the start of the first game, the Hyderabad girl trailed throughout the 38-minute encounter and could never unsettle her opponent.
Wang is a classy player, who thrives on her amazing placements and down the line drop shots.
In between, she would surprise her rival with deft backhand play. She was quick on her feet and left little room for Saina to engage her on long rallies. To make it worse, Saina made too many unforced errors.
“I made few errors at the net,” Saina said. “Also, I need to improve more on my fitness to play at this level. I have recovered from the injury but would need to work harder on fitness.”
At one time, Saina looked desperate in the first game and used both her opportunities to challenge the line calls. On both occasions, she was found wrong in replays.
The world No. 8, however, said her performance in the India Open was better than it was in the previous meet. “My performance has improved. You should take note of the fact that I was playing against the world No. 3, who was also the world champion.”