Saina Nehwal was so flawless and encouraging on Wednesday, but last night at the India Open Super Series, the World No 5 crashed out to young left- handed Korean Youn Joo Bae 19-21, 10-21 in just 35 minutes.
The only time she was comfortable was in the beginning of the first game when she led 6-3 and again 10-8. But once Bae equalled at 15-15, Saina slowed down and then paid a heavy price. She allowed the Korean early to the net where the World No 12 came up with some superb dribbles.
At 18-18, Saina missed a sitter and then everything came crashing down for the Hyderabad shuttler. Her second game was simply inexplicable. There was no strategy, no tactics.
Her half-smashes were picked up with ease by Bae. The Indian will really have to do some serious thinking about her game if she wants to fight for an Olympic medal.
Otherwise, it was a good day for the Indian squad at the Open. Parupalli Kashyap hung on to that miniscule chance of playing at the London Games alive as he played the match of his life to defeat the highly experienced Ponsana Boonsak of Thailand in a highly pulsating match that lasted 65 minutes.
Kashyap saved two match points at 18-20 to romp home 21-15, 14-21, 22-20. But his task is far from over if he has to deny compatriot Ajay Jayaram that much prized Olympic berth. Jayaram and Kashyap are fighting to grab the last qualifying slot and take that flight to Heathrow.
Jayaram played a great game, but tasted defeat at the hands of World No 1 Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia, losing out 16-21, 21-15, 5-21.
“I do not know what happened. I should have shown better control. I matched him stroke for stroke, but those errors at end of long rallies did me in,” said a disappointed Jayaram.
Kashyap, who was delighted after his win, now runs into World No 5 Chen Jin of China.
Jwala Gutta/Ashwini Ponappa ensured Olympic qualification as they won their ladies doubles match to enter the quarter-finals by defeating Vita Marisse/Nandy Melati of Indonesia in three games. But the girl who won all hearts here was 17-year-old PV Sindhu. She played a fluent game to knock out Sung Ji Hyun of Korea 21-17/22-20 to reach her first super series quarter-finals.