New Delhi, April 25 (IANS) The India Open Super Series is perhaps jinxed for home favourite Saina Nehwal, who squandered three matchpoints to be stunned by Japan’s Yui Hashimoto in the women’s singles second round here Thursday.
Saina’s match was all but over when she was leading 20-17 in the third game but a wrong line-call made her lose focus and the top seed eventually lost the match at the Siri Fort Sports Complex here. Yui won 21-13, 12-21, 22-2o in their first ever meet. Due to her loss, the hyped Saina-Sindhu clash will not happen in this tournament at least.
The Hyderabadi maintained her poor record at India Open where she exited the in the first and second round in 2011 and 2012, respectively.
Earlier in the day, H.S. Prannoy fulfilled his childhood dream of beating former Olympic and World Champion Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia 26-24, 21-9 in 40 minutes while Mumbai’s Anand Pawar caused the biggest upset of the day by beating third seed and World No.5 Yun Hu of Hong Kong 21-15, 15-21, 21-10 in 52 minutes to enter the men’s singles quarterfinals.
Prannoy will next face World No.1 Lee Chong Wei while Pawar takes on city-mate Ajay Jayaram in the last eight Friday.
Top seed Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia progressed to the quarters by easing past Kazumasa Sakai of Japan 21-17, 21-9 in 33 minutes while women’s singles eighth seed P.V. Sindhu advanced by beating Sun Yu of China 19-21, 21-19, 21-15 in the longest match of the day, which lasted one hour and eight minutes.
Saina was in her elements in the first game, leading from the start and never allowing the lead slip through her fingers. One body-smash into Yui and the crowd favourite marched on to win the game with ease. The World No.2’s game was full of lobs followed by accurate smashes away from
Yui, which did not let the Japanese come even close to Saina’s score.
Though she looked confident at the start of the second game, Saina made several errors – most of them smashes going into the net – which put the game in the World No.46’s favour. The unseeded Japanese was agile in her movement and recovered Saina’s smashes regularly which frustrated the World No.2 into making errors, giving the game away to the Japanese.
The third game was an extremely close affair with both shuttlers keeping close to each other’s score. Cheered by her mother and the crowd chanting ‘Go Saina’, the World No.2 slowly extended her lead to matchpoint (20-17) from 16-all.
But a smash by Yui, which looked clearly out, was called in by the line-judge. Saina appealed but the referee turned down the challenge which is when Saina lost her focus and concentration.
The Japanese took full advantage of the situation and clinched the next four points to win the game and match, toppling the top seed out of the tournament.
“I lost focus after the line-call was called in. And the next four points came and went so quickly that I failed to catch the momentum,” Saina said.