Incheon: In what came as a shock for the Indian fans, star shuttlers Saina Nehwal and Parupalli Kashyap fell by the wayside as the two lost their respective women's and men's singles matches to bow out of the 17th Asian Games here on Friday.
Commonwealth Games gold medallist Kashyap failed to pass the Asiad test as he lost to World No.1 Lee Chong Wei 0-2 in the pre-quarterfinals at the Gyeyang Gymnasium, while Saina fizzled out after winning the first game against China's Yihan Wang 21-18 9-21 7-21 in her quarterfinal encounter.
India's K Srikanth also lost out in the men's singles pre-quarterfinals after losing a hard-fought battle against Wanho Son of South Korea 2-1 in an hour and seven minutes.
The sixth-seeded Saina started on an aggressive note but Yihan used clever angled strokes to make the Hyderabadi girl move around the court and then finished points with her deceptive drops as she took 11-8 lead at the break.
Saina kept herself within touching distance as she picked four points on the trot from 11-15 to not only claw back but wrest the lead 16-15.
The duo was then engaged in an energy-sapping rally which Saina won with a brilliant net play and carried on the momentum to win a closely contested opening game.
The Indian, however, could not maintain the aggression, even as Yihan surged ahead 8-5.
Both the shuttlers found it hard to judge the shuttle due to the drift in the court. At 5-10, Saina earned another point but she hit wide to allow Yihan to go into the interval at 11-5.
A couple of sharp smashes by Yihan swelled her lead and Saina's unforced errors gave the Chinese a cushion of 17-8 points. Saina completely failed to control the shuttle and soon trailed 8-20. Another rally and an easy point saw Yihan roar back into the contest.
The third game looked like a mere formality as Yihan dictated terms to pocket the match and end Saina's misery, even as coach Vimal Kumar looked on with disappointment.
Earlier, in the men's singles match today, top Malaysian shuttler Chong Wei dispatched the unseeded Kashyap 21-12 21-11 in straight games of 17 minutes each.
Kashyap, 28, who got a bye in the opening round, did get the better of Afghanistan's Iqbal Ahmad Shekib in the second round but failed to pass the litmus test.
The Hyderabadi shuttler looked overawed by Chong Wei's presence and committed a lot of unforced errors despite repeated warnings from coach Pullela Gopichand.
It was also heartbreak for India's mixed doubles pair of B Sumeeth Reddy and Manu Attri, who lost a hard fought battle in the quarterfinals against Singapore duo of Danny Bawa Chrisnanta and Yu Yan Vanessa Neo 21-18 21-23 21-15 in under 50 minutes.
The duo had notched up a stunning straight-game win over World No.10 Chinese pair of Liu Xiaolong and Qiu Zihan in the pre-quarterfinals yesterday.
In the men's doubles quarterfinals, Attri and Sumeeth Reddy were outplayed by the Indonesian pair of Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan 21-12 21-19 in 32 minutes.
World No.10 P V Sindhu had already bowed out of the women's single event yesterday. India got a lone bronze medal in badminton after the women stood third on the podium in the team event.