Saina Nehwal’s dream of an Olympic gold was shattered yesterday when she lost to a superior Wang Yihan of China in the women’s singles semi-finals.
The Indian, who will now play another Chinese Wang Xin for the bronze medal on Saturday, said she wants to giver her all for it now. “I just want to give it (bronze medal play-off match) my best,” Saina said after her semis clash.
Saina, the first Indian shuttler to play in an Olympic semi-final, could not match the class of the reigning world champion. The 13-21, 13-21 defeat was her sixth straight loss to Wang, who remains the only Chinese the Hyderabadi has never beaten.
Saina’s opponent for bronze Wang Xin, who has a 4-2 head-to-head record against the Indian, lost to compatriot Li Xuerui 20-22, 18-21 in the other semi-final.
Saina tried her best against the World No 1, who moved better on the court and was relentless in her attack during the 39-minute contest. A slew of unforced errors by Saina, especially towards the end, contributed to her downfall.
Saina took time to get her feet moving while the Chinese covered the court like a gazelle. From 4-4 in the first game, Wang raced to an 11-6 lead by the first break with some power-packed smashes.
She won most of the long rallies through her flawless court coverage and commendable retrieving. Her soft smashes left the Indian despairingly lunging to reach.
Saina managed a minor recovery from 9-18 to take the next four points, but that was not enough to trouble the champion. Wang went a game up with a forehand smash which Saina got late on.
The World No 5 had to try something different in the second game to make an impact and that is what she did.
Time to attack
Saina went on the offensive, moving much faster on the court. She used the high toss to advantage, though she also went over the baseline a couple of times. The approach helped her recover from a 3-6 deficit to take a slender lead at 11-10.
With the scoreline reading 13-13, Wang went on the overdrive, reeling off the next eight points to close out the match. To go with the errors, dodgy judgment on the lines also cost the Indian the game and the match.
Speaking about her semis loss, Saina said: “Wang was simply too fast for me. I was not moving well on the court and she exploited that. I made some errors in crucial stages which did not help me,” she said.
“I tried hard in some areas but she just did not allow me to settle down and engage in rallies. She was finishing off quickly and was coming upto the net to attack. I could not counter that kind of a game,” Saina explained.