New Delhi: Saina Nehwal and Parupalli Kashyap crashed out of the India Open with straight-game defeats, bringing the home challenge to an end at the USD 250,000 Super Series badminton tournament here today.
World number eight Saina, who reached her maiden Indian Open quarterfinal yesterday, saved four match points against her nemesis Yihan Wang before going down 16-21 14-21 in a 39-minute women's singles contest for her eighth defeat to the Chinese.
Kashyap, on the other hand, brought some cheer to his fans with his efforts on the court even though he could not stop world number one Lee Chong Wei, losing 15-21 13-21 in a 40-minute men's singles match.
Up against a familiar foe in Yihan, Saina tried to put pressure only to falter with her strokes and could not finish off the points. Her strokes were inaccurate and lot of the retrieves got buried at the net.
In the opening game, Saina tried to keep the shuttle on the back of the court but Yihan was more energetic as she glided through the court with ease and retrieved everything which was thrown at her to lead 11-9 at the break.
After the breather, Yihan continued her domination and kept Saina at bay riding on the Indian's errors. Saina's taps were going to the net, and smashes out of the court. Yihan smashed one at the back court to earn four game points and then with Saina hitting out, she earned the bragging rights.
Saina went for her two instant review chances which has been put in place today but on both the occasions she wasted it.
Things didn't change much in the second game as once again Yihan marched ahead to lead 11-4 with the help of precise taps and backhand returns. Saina reeled off four straight points after the breather by engaging Yihan in rallies.
But Yihan once again started dominating the proceedings with the help of her repertoire of shots. A few unforced errors and wrong judgments and Yihan was leading 18-9. The Chinese then made it 19-9 with the help of a cross court flick and soon enjoyed 10 match points at 20-10. However, there was still fight left in Saina as she saved four match points but then Yihan closed the door with a mid-court smash.
Saina admitted she made too many errors.
"Yihan is a strong opponent for all the players. And it's not that we cannot beat her. But sometimes few errors make a difference and today I gave her a huge lead," said Saina, who had lost to Yihan in Swiss Open last month.
"From the net, lot of my pushes were hitting the net which was not necessary. I need to make sure that I get it right in the next tournament. Every tournament is a learning experience and I hope I play safe and keep the shuttle in the court."
The 24-year-old Indian said she played better against Yihan but needs to work on her fitness and net play.
"It's a good experience. Playing her again and again will only improve my game. In fact I have played much better than last time," she said.
"I have got it in mind where I need to work on. At the net and fitness, I will have to work. Fitness is not bad but it's not 100 percent. I still need fitness to match all these top players."
Taking the court just after Saina's match, Kashyap tried his heart out despite playing with a strapping on his shoulders as he fought back from 2-7 to 10-11 and 12-15 to 14-15 in the first game and 5-13 to 11-16 in the second game even though he could never really threaten the Olympic silver medallist.
In fact, the match never caught fire even though the Indian showed flashes of brilliance but he was always doing the catch up job against the world number one, who moved across the court with consummate ease and seemed to have all the time in the world to decide on his strokes.
Lee was at his usual self right from the start as he went about his business and soon lead 11-8. Kashyap then brought out his best game as he dived twice to retrieve Lee's returns and soon grabbed the point with the Malaysian hitting out as the crowd rooted for the Indian. He pocketed some points with his smashes and made some sound judgments to narrow down the gap to 14-15.
However, Kashyap committed a lot of unforced errors as his soft lifts found the net and smashes went wide which allowed Lee to pocket the game easily.
In the second game, Lee once again dominated the proceedings and forced Kashyap to commit errors to move into a 11-5 lead. The Indian grabbed some points with his net play and smash winners but Lee was always ahead of him till the end.
"I made a few winners but also made few mistakes in the first game. I played well, I knew he's going to be really quick. I have to be really quick also and finish it off. My smashes were good, I was able to get good shots. He was too fast, so we need to keep up that pace with him throughout the match," Kashyap said.
"I think I played better against him than on previous occasions. In the second game, I couldn't match him. In the nets, he was quite sharp."
Kashyap said that wide smash at 14-15 was a crucial moment of the match.
"In the first game, 15-14. I hit the smash out from almost the centre of the court, so that was very crucial. If you want to beat a player like him, you have to stick with him, level his scores. Then, he will also play tight and you have a chance, but that was my best chance," said the 27-year-old, who will next play in Singapore Open.
"In the second game, I was able to get my lifts, defended most of his smashes. In the rally, my smashes were finishing more than him. He was playing well at the nets. Excitement to get the points, I was making few errors. I was not very steady," added the Hyderabad lad, who had reached the semifinal here in 2012.
Men's singles: 4-Jan O Jorgensen (DEN) bt Takuma Udea (JPN) 21-11, 21-13, 1-Lee Chong Wei (MAL) bt P. Kashyap (IND) 21-15, 21-13, 2-Chen Long (CHN) bt Hans-Kristian Vittinghus (Den) 21-17, 21-15, 7-Pengyu Du (CHN) bt Viktor Axelsen (DEN) 21-11, 22-24, 21-19.
Women's singles: 1-Li Xuerui (CHN) bt 5-Yeon Ju Bae (KOR) 21-7, 21-15; Xin (F) Liu (CHN) bt Aprilla Yuswandari (INA) 21-15, 21-8 ; 3-Wang Yihan(CHN) bt 8- Saina Nehwal (IND) 21-16, 21-14, 2- Shixian Wang (CNH) bt 6-Ji Hyun Sung (KOR) 21-13, 17-21, 21-17.
Men's doubles: Maneepong Jongjit /Nipitphon Puangpuapech (THA) bt Hung Ling Chen/Chia Pin Lu (TPE) 21-14, 21-17.
Women's doubles: Kyung Eun Jung/Ha Na Kim (KOR) bt Vivian Kah Mun Hoo/Khe Wei Woon (MAS) 21-9, 21-17; 6-Jin Ma/Xiaoli Wang (CHN) bt 2-Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi 21-13, 21-18; Yuanting Tang/Yang (F) Yu bt Wen Hsing Cheng/Pei Chen Hsieh (TPE) 15-21, 21-12, 21-15
Mixed doubles: 1-Zhang Nan/Zhao Yunlei (CHN) bt Debby Susanto/Praveen Jordan (INA) 19-21, 21-10, 21-13; 3-Joachim Fischer Nielsen/Christinna Pedersen (DEN) bt 5-Sudket Prapakamol/Saralee Thoungthongkam 21-17, 21-5; 2-Tontowi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir (INA) bt Mads Pieler Kolding/Kamilla Rytter Juhl 21-15, 21-9; 4-Sun Hyun Ko/Ha Na Kim (KOR) bt Peng Soon Chan/Pei Chen Hsieh (TPE) 21-15, 19-21, 21-10.