Saina knocks down world No.6 to storm into badminton quarters (Lead)

August 11th, 2008 - 2:42 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Abhinav Bindra

Beijing, Aug 11 (IANS) India’s Saina Nehwal pulled off a nerve-wracking thriller to stun world no.6 and fourth seed Chen Wang of Hong Kong to storm into the quarterfinals of women’s singles badminton competition at the Beijing Olympics here Monday. An hour after rifle-man Abhinav Bindra created history, bringing home India’s first individual gold medal, the world No.15 Saina shocked Wang 21-19, 11-21, 21-11 in the pre-quarters at the Beijing University of Technology Gymnasium.

Eighteen-year-old Saina showed nerves of steel to stave off the fierce challenge of experienced Wang, who had a 2-0 record over the Indian.

Saina, who has grown up dreaming of an Olympic medal, fought like a champion and showed maturity beyond her age in knocking down the higher ranked Wang as coach Pullela Gopichand motivated her.

Known as a giant-killer in the international arena since making a historic debut winning the Philippines Open in 2006 and, the first Indian woman to win a badminton Grand Prix, Saina has developed a knack of taking on the challenge of giant Asian rivals. This is Saina’s debut Olympics.

Saina got off the blocks in a flash taking a 4-1 lead in the first game before Wang bounced back to pocket four points in a row and put her nose ahead. It was a see-saw battle from there on as neither player was ready to concede an inch.

Saina was up 12-10 but Wang again took five successive points to go up 15-12. Wang was looking to wrap up the game at 19-16 but Saina had other plans. The Indian turned on the heat pocketing the next five points to shut out Wang and take a 1-0 lead.

Stung by the reversal, Wang came back hard and did not give the Indian much chance in the second game wrapping it 21-11 in just 14 minutes and took the match to the decider.

Saina then raised her game and opened up a 6-0 lead in the third game. Wang was under pressure and started making errors as Saina went up 12-4 and 15-7. From there on it was a matter of time before Saina pulled off the biggest win of her career.

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