#AsianGames2018: Star shuttler Saina Nehwal reaches semis; assured of medal
India's top shuttler Saina Nehwal assured herself of at least a bronze after progressing to the women's badminton singles semifinals, knocking out World No. 5 Ratchanok Intanon at the ongoing 18th Asian Games in Indonesia. Saina fell behind 3-8 at the beginning of the opening game but found a way to beat the Thai player 21-18, 21-16 in the 42-minute long quarterfinal. Here's more.
Saina's is India's first medal in women's badminton singles at the Asian Games. Syed Modi was the only Indian to win a medal at the Asian Games when he clinched the men's singles bronze at the 1982 edition.
Saina had beaten Thailand's Ratchanok at the recent World Championship and also at the Indonesian Master. She came into this match with a superior record with four wins in the last five meetings against the Thai. She will next take on World No 1 Tai Tzu Ying, who knocked out Glasgow World Champion Nozomi Okuhara of Japan 21-15, 21-10 in the other quarterfinal.
Meanwhile, World No. 3 PV Sindhu will also take on a Thai player in the last-eight as the top Indian shutter is up against World No. 12 Jindapol Nitchaon.
Though Saina looked in good nick and rhythm, unforced errors pegged her back 1-5 and 3-8 at one stage. With the handy lead in the pocket, Ratchanok tried to be deceptive with service but lost points. However, Saina again netted the shuttle to trail 3-9. Saina had no option but to play aggressive that resulted in unforced errors, taking the first break trailing 3-11.
Saina, however, made a comeback in the first game by hitting deep and angled returns, reducing the deficit to 15-17. Ratchanok netted a return at 18-all; for the first time, Saina led in the opening game. Ratchanok hit a backhand return over the line giving Saina her first game point, which she converted when Ratchanok left a shuttle that fell inside the line.
Saina was all fired up in the second game and always had lead in hand. Though the Thai player hit a few winners on the backhand side of Saina, the Indian had control over the game. She led 16-12 and closed the match in her favor when Ratchanok hit a backhand wide and Saina found a winner on the next point.