Saina in last 16, awaits formidable opponent(Badminton lead)

August 10th, 2008 - 1:57 pm ICT by IANS  

By V. Krishnaswamy
Beijing, Aug 10 (IANS) Saina Nehwal continued her dazzling form to storm into the pre-quarterfinal of the women’s singles badminton competition with a comprehensive 21-18, 21-10 win over Ukraine’s Gryga Larysa in just under half an hour Sunday morning. With the win coming on expected lines, the focus shifted to 18-year-old Saina’s next likely opponent, the fourth seed and experienced Wang Chen of Hong Kong. Wang, who shifted from China to Hong Kong in 1999, when she went for a knee operation, is due to play her second round match in the evening against Eva Sladekov of Slovakia at the Beijing University of Technology Gymnasium.

Wang is the reigning Asian Games champion and runner-up at the World Championships in Kuala Lumpur last year, when she lost to Zhu Lin of China.

Admitting that Wang will be a formidable opponent, Saina said, “From here on, every match is like a final. As for my game I did not feel uncomfortable at any point of my game. The crowd is great - you hardly see so many people cheering badminton players - and the atmosphere is electric.”

Asked about her chances against fourth seed and experienced 32-year-old Wang Chen, Saina said, “It’s going to be tough against her, no question about that.”

“But I can assure you that I would put my 100 percent tomorrow.”

Playing Larysa for the first time, Saina, ranked 15th, took her time to assess her opponent before shifting gears. The Ukrainian won her first two points at the start of the match, but Saina moved in and the score was neck and neck till 6-5 for the Indian. Saina then went on to build a 10-7 lead. Larysa made her first big move at that point with six straight points going up 13-10.

It was Saina’s turn thereafter as she raced with five in a row to take over the 15-13 and from then never relinquished it. From 20-15, Larysa made an attempt with three points, but Saina wrapped up the game 21-18 in 17 minutes.

In the second game, Saina was never challenged. She led 5-0, 8-1, 10-3 and 12-5 and soon ended the match at 21-10.

Explaining her slowish and measured start against Larysa, Saina said, “I had not played her earlier, so I did not go all out right from the start. I needed time to pick her (weak points).”

Though beating Wang might prove a Herculean task, Saina exuded confidence of being third time lucky against her illustrious peer.

In the evening session, India’s Anup Sridhar will meet Marco Vasconcelos of Portugal.

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