London Olympics: Saina admits she had no answer to Wang’s speed in semi-final

first_imgSaina Nehwal’s body language said it all. Looking tired after the previous night’s win, she was not able to play at her best and lost 13-21, 13-21 to world number one Yihan Wang of China in the semi-finals on Friday.The Indian queen will now have to play the bronze medal play-off on Saturday if she is to win her maiden Olympic medal. It will be against another Chinese — Wang Xin.The packed arena had a good mix of Indian and Chinese supporters but there was no doubting the tall Wang’s speed, reach and skills.At five feet and 10 inches and weighing just 66kgs, the cherubic Wang is a bundle of energy. When she is on court, there are two distinct expressions on her face.In a rally, she looks calm and moves on the court with agility and retrieves the shuttle with amazing speed. But when she smashes the shuttle and wins a point, she gives full expression to her emotion and punches the air with her left fist and yells.It was almost like watching a contest between two gladiators with one certain to lose. Saina had never beaten Wang before in five meetings and to reverse the trend would have been a huge task.It was Wang who started aggressively. Her tactics were simple, keep the shuttle flat and low, thereby denying Saina the chance to launch her smashes. The tall Chinese player also dominated the net, scoring repeatedly with her cross court dribbles.Wang broke free to jump into a 8-4 lead and despite Saina’s best efforts led 11-6 before the two minute breather. Coach Pullela Gopichand told Saina to slow things down but then Wang was in no mood to relinquish control. advertisementWang kept pushing Saina to the baseline. To add to her woes, Saina made a host of unforced errors with her usually dependable tosses. In addition, Saina also made a couple of poor judgements at the baseline while watching the flight and length of the shuttle. To be sure, it is hard to recall an instance when Saina showed such poor judgement on the baseline. Perhaps, it was the pressure exerted by Wang which weighed on her mind.Finally, Wang won the first game 21-13 with a couple of cross-court smashes.In the second game, Wang continued to dominate with a combination of hard and flat shots. It was very clear that the Chinese support team had done their homework and did not give the Indian any space.As Wang opened up a 6-3 lead, she looked relaxed and consumed little time in reeling off points.But there was a brief fight-back from the Indian as for the first time she surged ahead 11-10. The Indians in the stands thought Saina would change the pattern of play and put her opponent under pressure and force the third game.Very soon, Wang took a deep breath and exploded into brilliance, as she smashed with vengeance and also thwarted Saina’s net play.Soon, it was Wang who led 17-13 and did not look back from there. It was Wang’s maiden Olympic final and she has worked hard for it.”Wang was too fast for me. She put me under pressure with her with parallel game. I should have slowed down things but failed to do it,” said Saina.”I tried hard in some areas but she just did not allow me to settle down. Wang was finishing off the points quickly and I could not counter that kind of a game,” explained Saina further.Talking about her performance, Wang said: “I will try to get the gold medal but I will also try to enjoy myself on the court.””After winning this match, I have got more confidence now,” added Wang.last_img

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