Saina Nehwal storms into the quarterfinals with a straight-game win over Jie Yao of the Netherlands
He looked confused and tired. Yet, P. Kashyap found a way out of the web that the Sri Lankan Niluka Karunaratne had woven around him, to march briskly into the quarterfinals of the men’s singles in badminton, in the Olympics at the Wembley Arena, here on Wednesday.
The 25-year-old pulled through to a 21-14, 15-21, 21-9 victory in just over an hour. Kashyap had done well to recover after a quick start by the Lankan, when the latter led 6-1.
The slow start perhaps helped Kashyap to lift his game strongly, and he played with an all-round efficiency to take a 13-8 lead. He smashed judiciously and moved his opponent around quite craftily to induce the mistakes.
In the second game, the Lankan took an 11-3 lead, and Kashyap was distinctly uncomfortable and unsure on the other side of the court. His judgement was wrong a few times and he lacked the surety of touch, as his approach lacked clarity and direction.
The Lankan was on a roll, and reached 20-8 before Kashyap reeled off seven points in a row, to ensure an early revival of his fortunes. The net dribbles were breathtaking and Kashyap capped them with strong smashes, as he regained confidence in his ability even as he lost the game.
It was all even till 5-5 in the decider, before Kashyap accelerated ahead, winning 10 points to one by his opponent to gain a stranglehold over the proceedings.
It was crucial that he took a decisive 11-5 lead before the change of side and cruised along.
“The other side was slow. I was tired and confused, not seeing the shuttle and making mistakes. Those few points in the end of the second game gave me the confidence,” said Kashyap, who felt that his game was being read easily by his opponent, before he slowed things down to confuse him.
“He was very strong in the third,” conceded Niluka. Kashyap may run into Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia in the quarterfinals. “It is great, an Olympic quarterfinal, probably against the World No. 1,” he said.
In women’s singles, Saina Nehwal romped into the quarterfinals after notching up a comfortable straight-game victory over Dutch Jie Yao.
The world No. 5 tired out the Dutch girl by engaging her in rallies and executed her strokes with perfection to emerge victories by 21-14, 21-16 margin in a 40-minute match.
Up against the world No. 20 Jie, Saina surged to a 11-5 lead and moved to the game point in a jiffy when the Dutch girl hit wide. The Chinese-born girl saved a few game points, mainly because of the error of judgement by Saina and a couple of loose shots but soon she pocketed the game with a beautiful net play.
In the second game, Saina brought out her variations and involved Jie in rallies to lead 11-7 at the break. Jie fought back to narrow the gap to 14-12 but that didn't affect the Indian as she moved ahead to 19-15 with a drop and then executed a cross court smash to earn a match point.
Jie won a net play but with her hitting out, Saina burst into celebration.
The 25-year-old Kashyap won 21-14, 15-21, 21-9