Saina’s gallant run in Beijing comes to an end (Lead)

August 13th, 2008 - 11:43 am ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Aug 13 (IANS) Saina Nehwal’s gallant run in her maiden Olympics ended Wednesday as she lost a marathon quarterfinal against Maria Kristin Yulianti of Indonesia here Wednesday. World no. 15 Saina went down 28-26, 14-21, 15-21 in a fierce battle that lasted more than an hour at the Beijing University of Technology Gymnasium here.

With Saina’s exit India’s badminton challenge ended as Anup Sridhar was out in the second round of the men’s singles competition Monday.

It was a match-up between two giant killers of the tournament and lived up to expectations as both players fought tooth and nail, not ready to concede an inch.

Saina came into the match riding high on the biggest upset of the tournament as she knocked out World no 6 and fourth seed Wang Chen of Hong Kong Monday to reach the last-16.

Yulianti, who is six places below Saina in the rankings, had taken out sixth seed Tine Rasmussen of Denmark in the prequarters.

Ominous signs showed for Saina in the very first game when she lost as many as eight game points. Saina was all set for a 1-0 lead at 20-16 but Yulianti had other plans. She fought back to save four points. Saina though breathed easy when she finally won the game at 28-26.

Yulianti raised her standards and pocketed the second game. Saina, whose fine net play and court coverage stood out in the entire match, made some errors in judging the line calls which proved costly.

Saina looked the better of the two in the decider and got a stranglehold on the match at 11-3. The Indonesian felt the pressure as she conceded points in heaps, her shots often hitting the net. But Yulianti was not prepared to crash out and turned the tables on Saina spectacularly.

In a flash, Yulianti went up to 18-12 as Saina looked desperate and tense seeing the match slipping from her hands. Pressure got the better of Saina at that point and she started making errors. Yulianti used all her experience to drive home the advantage.

The loss notwithstanding, it was a brave performance by Saina, who has grown up dreaming of an Olympic gold. She gave everything in her maiden appearance and went out a touch away from a medal.

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