India's badminton ace Saina Nehwal made the country proud by storming into the semi-finals of the women's badminton singles at the London Olympics here today. She is the first Indian badminton player to enter Olympics semi-finals.
Saina made short work of her Denmark's Tine Baun in 39 minutes. Saina will now face world number one Yihan Wang of China in the last four.
The 22-year-old shuttler beat fifth-seeded Baun in straight games with a 21-15, 22-20 scoreline. Saina scored 10 points on her opponent's service in both games.
The match had its share of controversy with fifth seed Baun convinced that she had won a point and 2nd game, but the line judge ruling it out.
The controversy arose with the Dane leading 20-18. A Nehwal return flew to the baseline. it wasn't clear whether it had landed on the line or outside, but Baun thought it was out and was ready to celebrate when the judge ruled against her. This was the turning point with Baun looking out of sorts after this point.
Despite it being a straight games win, the match wasn't an easy walkover for the Indian. Tine, a two-time All England Champion and former world number one, made her sweat. Unfortunately, Tine was a bit inconsistent and this ultimately cost her the match.
Three untimely unforced errors by Tine in the second game helped the fourh seeded Indian make history.
With this win, Saina exorcised the demons of the 2008 Beijing Olympics where her campaign ended in the quarter-finals after losing to Indonesia's Maria Kristin Yulianti.
With all the three other semi-finalists being Chinese, Saina will be hoping to spoil their party and prevent them from making a clean sweep of the medals in event.
Saina's next contest will truly test her mettle since she has never beaten Wang in her five previous encounters. She's won just two of her six face-offs against both Li Xuerui and Wang Xin, the other semi-finalists.
Earlier on Wednesday, Saina had beaten Dutch Jie Yao to make the singles quarter-finals.
Interestingly, Saina's last two opponents -- Jie Yao and Tine Baun -- were both are in their 30's. Tan is 35 and Baun's 33.
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