London 2012: Day 5 – Session 3: Great Medal Expectations for Saina

Before the Olympic Games, Saina Nehwal’s form suggested genuine medal potential – and so far her performances have only enhanced that reputation.

The manner of tonight’s victory over Yao Jie underlined the talented Indian’s status as the most likely threat to China’s stranglehold on the Olympic podium’s top step in Women’s Singles.

Nehwal, who has trimmed down by more than five kilos in preparation for London 2012, has flown under the radar, progressing steadily and easily through the Group Stage. Her latest match against the 35-year-old Dutch veteran was billed as the Commonwealth champion’s first real test and she passed with distinction.

The look of steely determination on Nehwal’s face as she marched onto centre court in Wembley Arena was a sign of things to come. The 22-year-old took control in the opening game, won it 21-14 – to the approving roar of a sizeable contingent of Indian fans – and never looked back.

Coached by 2001 All England champion, Pullela Gopichand, Nehwal maintained her momentum and focus to wrest the second game 21-16 and ease into the quarter-finals.

“The support from all the Indians was inspiring today. I got a bit tense, moreso than nervous, in the second (game) but my coach kept me calm and centred. It was good to win in two games. I know there is a lot of expectation especially from home but this is my second Olympic Games and it is a games I am very well prepared and ready for,” declared the winner.

Tine Baun’s dream of an Olympic medal continues but under the saddest circumstances. Her opponent Sayaka Sato suffered a tournament-ending knee injury and, despite her best efforts to continue, was forced to retire while leading 15-14. Her tearful departure was heart-breaking.

“It’s never nice to see your opponent get injured. I felt so sorry for her and wish her a speedy recovery. I have to remain focused now. After a bad start in the game I began to find my rhythm and that is something I can take with confidently into the quarter-finals,” said the 33-year-old.

In Men’s Singles, Chinese teammates Chen Long and Chen Jin came through after suffering early scares against Wong Wing Ki and Marc Zwiebler respectively. Hong Kong representative, Wong, was beaten 17-21 17-21 while the German snatched the first set off Chen Jin but that was as good as it got for the European champion.

“I tried everything but it was not my day but overall it has been a great Olympic experience for me,” said Zwiebler, who lost 21-19 12-21 9-21.

In the battles of the reinstated Women’s Doubles pairs there was a lot for which to play – unexpected shots at the semi-finals and even the prospect of an Olympic medal. The Russian duo of Nina Vislova and Valeria Sorokina and Canadians Michelle Li and Alex Bruce seized this priceless opportunity, booking semi-final places with victories over their South African (Michelle Edwards/Annari Viljoen) and Australian (Renuga Veeran/Leanne Choo) rivals 21-9 21-7 and 21-9 18-21 21-18 respectively.

When asked about the day’s events, Sorokina was just relieved to secure victory and move into the semi-finals.

“It has been a strange day. We found out we were back in the tournament and immediately started to prepare mentally for the challenge. The win looked easy but it was more difficult than it appeared but now we have this second chance, we want to prove that we are worth it and push for a medal,” said the Russian.

It was a bitter-sweet day for Denmark’s Christinna Pedersen. The elegant Dane had advanced to the Mixed Doubles semi-finals earlier in the day (alongside partner Joachim Fischer) but a stuttering performance against No. 4 seed Japanese pair, Mizuki Fujii and Reika Kakiiwa, in Women’s Doubles – partnered by Kamilla Rytter Juhl – saw her double-medal hopes evaporate in straight games 22-10 21-10.

“We struggled with the speed of the shuttle today and the Japanese defended very well. It’s a chance gone given the draw we found ourselves with and that is very disappointing as we have been playing well,” noted Pedersen.

Olympic and Paralympic News

History-Making Danes Thwart China – Day 6 Session 1: Rio 2016

History-Making Danes Thwart China – Day 6 Session 1: Rio 2016

16 August 2016
London 2012: Day 9 – Men’s Doubles: Careers Complete with Golden Sweep

London 2012: Day 9 – Men’s Doubles: Careers Complete with Golden Sweep

5 August 2012
London 2012: Day 9 – Men’s Singles: He’s ‘Dan’ It!

London 2012: Day 9 – Men’s Singles: He’s ‘Dan’ It!

5 August 2012
London 2012: Day 8 – Women’s Singles : Li Xuerui Repays Country’s Faith with Gold

London 2012: Day 8 – Women’s Singles : Li Xuerui Repays Country’s...

4 August 2012
London 2012: Day 8 – Women’s Doubles: Double Take for Zhao Yunlei

London 2012: Day 8 – Women’s Doubles: Double Take for Zhao Yunlei

4 August 2012
London 2012: Day 8 – Men’s Doubles Semis: Korea’s Loss is Denmark’s Gain

London 2012: Day 8 – Men’s Doubles Semis: Korea’s Loss is Denmark’s...

4 August 2012
London 2012: Day 7 – Men’s Singles Semis: Lin Dan, Lee Chong Wei in Golden Showdown

London 2012: Day 7 – Men’s Singles Semis: Lin Dan, Lee Chong...

3 August 2012
London 2012: Day 7 – Zhang-Zhao Tops World of Mixed Doubles

London 2012: Day 7 – Zhang-Zhao Tops World of Mixed Doubles

3 August 2012
London 2012: Day 7 – Women’s Singles Semis: Wang Yihan Routs Nehwal

London 2012: Day 7 – Women’s Singles Semis: Wang Yihan Routs Nehwal

3 August 2012
London 2012: Day 6 – Session 3: Lin Dan, Chong Wei in Semi-finals

London 2012: Day 6 – Session 3: Lin Dan, Chong Wei in...

2 August 2012
London 2012: Day 6 – Session 2: China Assured of Mixed Doubles Gold

London 2012: Day 6 – Session 2: China Assured of Mixed Doubles...

2 August 2012
London 2012: Day 6 – Session 1: Four Countries Eye Men’s Doubles Gold

London 2012: Day 6 – Session 1: Four Countries Eye Men’s Doubles...

2 August 2012
London 2012: Day 5 – Session 2: Juliane Schenk Crashes Out to Ratchanok

London 2012: Day 5 – Session 2: Juliane Schenk Crashes Out to...

1 August 2012
London 2012: Day 5 – Session 1: Final Bow for European Greats

London 2012: Day 5 – Session 1: Final Bow for European Greats

1 August 2012
London 2012: Koreans’ Appeal Rejected; Indonesia’s Withdrawn

London 2012: Koreans’ Appeal Rejected; Indonesia’s Withdrawn

1 August 2012
London 2012: Four Pairs Disqualified

London 2012: Four Pairs Disqualified

1 August 2012
London 2012: Badminton Players to Answer Charges

London 2012: Badminton Players to Answer Charges

1 August 2012
London 2012: Day 4 – Session 3: Lee Yong Dae Looking to ‘Double Up’

London 2012: Day 4 – Session 3: Lee Yong Dae Looking to...

31 July 2012
London 2012: Day 4 – Session 2: Cordon Creates Continental History

London 2012: Day 4 – Session 2: Cordon Creates Continental History

31 July 2012
London 2012: Day 4 – Session 1: Chinese Doubly Surprised!

London 2012: Day 4 – Session 1: Chinese Doubly Surprised!

31 July 2012
London 2012: Day 3 – Session 3: Korea’s Top Guns Bow Out

London 2012: Day 3 – Session 3: Korea’s Top Guns Bow Out

30 July 2012
London 2012: Day 3 – Session 2: Injury Pulls Poles Apart

London 2012: Day 3 – Session 2: Injury Pulls Poles Apart

30 July 2012
London 2012: Day 3 – Session 1: Olympics Gets Even Better for Sri Lankan Flag Bearer

London 2012: Day 3 – Session 1: Olympics Gets Even Better for...

30 July 2012
London 2012: Day 2 – Session 3: Chinese Focused on Golden Finale to Careers

London 2012: Day 2 – Session 3: Chinese Focused on Golden Finale...

29 July 2012
London 2012: Day 2 – Session 2: Beware the Baby-Faced Assassins

London 2012: Day 2 – Session 2: Beware the Baby-Faced Assassins

29 July 2012
London 2012: Day 2 – Session 1: Brits Going Home from the London Olympics

London 2012: Day 2 – Session 1: Brits Going Home from the...

29 July 2012
London 2012: Day 1 – Session 3: Australians’ Fighting Spirit to the Fore

London 2012: Day 1 – Session 3: Australians’ Fighting Spirit to the...

28 July 2012
London 2012: Day 1 – Session 2: Anu ‘Finnish-ed’ Losing at Olympics

London 2012: Day 1 – Session 2: Anu ‘Finnish-ed’ Losing at Olympics

28 July 2012
London 2012: Day 1 – Session 1: Russians Surprise British Hopefuls

London 2012: Day 1 – Session 1: Russians Surprise British Hopefuls

28 July 2012
London 2012: Weight of Country and Continent on Schenk’s Shoulders

London 2012: Weight of Country and Continent on Schenk’s Shoulders

27 July 2012
London 2012: Lin Dan: ‘I was just an ordinary kid like anyone else’

London 2012: Lin Dan: ‘I was just an ordinary kid like anyone...

27 July 2012
London 2012: Lee Chong Wei takes on ghost of Wembley

London 2012: Lee Chong Wei takes on ghost of Wembley

27 July 2012
London 2012: Another Starry Accomplishment in Li Lingwei’s Brilliant Career

London 2012: Another Starry Accomplishment in Li Lingwei’s Brilliant Career

26 July 2012
London 2012: BWF President Hails ‘Worthy Recognition’ For  Sir Craig Reedie

London 2012: BWF President Hails ‘Worthy Recognition’ For Sir Craig Reedie

26 July 2012
London 2012: Self-belief breathes new life into Kashyap

London 2012: Self-belief breathes new life into Kashyap

26 July 2012
London 2012: Brother and sister create badminton history

London 2012: Brother and sister create badminton history

26 July 2012
Robertson lights up Wembley Arena with Olympic torch

Robertson lights up Wembley Arena with Olympic torch

25 July 2012
London 2012: Cai and Fu: Seeking the missing piece to their collection

London 2012: Cai and Fu: Seeking the missing piece to their collection

24 July 2012
London 2012: Olympic Games LIVE DRAW

London 2012: Olympic Games LIVE DRAW

23 July 2012
London 2012 Lilyana Natsir: The key to Indonesia’s golden hopes

London 2012 Lilyana Natsir: The key to Indonesia’s golden hopes

19 July 2012
London 2012: World Championships bronze inspires Ponnappa

London 2012: World Championships bronze inspires Ponnappa

16 July 2012
London 2012: India’s chief strategist plots London game plan

London 2012: India’s chief strategist plots London game plan

15 July 2012
London 2012: ‘Czech’ out Petr in Opening Ceremony – badminton’s gritty warrior leads country

London 2012: ‘Czech’ out Petr in Opening Ceremony – badminton’s gritty warrior...

12 July 2012
London 2012 Olympic Games Qualification: Li Xuerui’s London calling

London 2012 Olympic Games Qualification: Li Xuerui’s London calling

10 July 2012
London 2012: Malaysia’s golden boy still hunting for titles

London 2012: Malaysia’s golden boy still hunting for titles

29 June 2012