Badminton / Saina tosses away four points after poor call from line judge

Holding three match-points at 20-17 in the deciding game against Japanese Yui Mashimoto, Saina Nehwal found herself at the receiving end of a poor call from the line-judge.

That one point — called ‘in’ — pulled the plug out of the World number two.

In sheer disgust, Saina tossed away four points in a flash to make her ‘customary’ premature exit from the $200,000 India Open badminton championship here on Thursday.

Mashimoto, described as “very dangerous” by Chief Coach P. Gopi Chand, battled all the way before getting lucky towards the end for a 13-21, 21-12, 22-20 victory in 62 minutes.

Good day

Ironically, the best day for India in a Badminton World Federation (BWF) Superseries event — with five men and two ladies in the quarterfinals — ended with the continued jinx of Saina in the India Open.

In 2011, Saina lost in the first round to Japan’s Ai Goto in straight games.

Last year, she succumbed to Korea’s Youn Joo Bae again in two games in the pre-quarterfinals. On this day, too, Saina was far below par.

“I think the judgement is out. You need to keep your concentration. I was quite upset with the line-call.

“I could not find my rhythm after that call. I just could not control. It was my mistake, totally,” was how a visibly-upset Saina reacted to the moment that turned in favour of World number 46 Mashimoto, who faces P. V. Sindhu next.

Biggest win

On the brighter side, 26-year-old Anand Pawar finally enjoyed the biggest win of his career over World number four Hong Kong’s Yun Hu, young H.S. Prannoy packed off former Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat, Ajay Jayaram scored his first win in three meetings against Thailand’s Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka, Sindhu beat a second Chinese in as many days and another growing talent, B. Sai Praneeth, entered his first superseries quarterfinals.

Anand, whose six-year stint in Denmark’s club competition ended this February, finally got it right against a top-five player in the world.

Yun Hu, who held a match-point against twice Olympic champion Lin Dan last week in the Asian championship, was surprised by the consistency with which Anand kept hitting flat returns.

Sindhu had to produce her best after dropping the opening game to China’s Sun Yu. She battled back from 13-18 in the second game and 4-8 in the decider to win.

Prannoy, who was happy just to play his idol Taufik Hidayat, managed to score the most memorable victory of his career.

The close first game saw Prannoy thrice come within a point of losing before cashing in on his third game point.

In the second, a tiring Hidayat fought for the first few points but once Prannoy led 10-4 and 13-7, he gave up.

“I knew winning the first game was very important. After that I gained confidence and wanted to open a good lead.

“I think Hidayat did not try too hard after a point,” said Prannoy, who plays World number one Lee Chong Wei on Friday.

The results: Quarterfinals (Indians unless stated):

Singles: Men: Lee Chong Wei (Mas) bt Sakai Kazumasa (Jpn) 21-17, 21-9; H.S. Prannoy bt Taufik Hidayat (Ina) 26-24, 21-9.

R.M.V. Gurusaidutt bt K. Srikanth 21-12, 21-16; Boonsak Ponsana (Tha) bt Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk 21-12, 21-10.

Ajay Jayaram bt Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka (Ina) 21-15, 21-12; Anand Pawar bt Yun Hu (Hkg) 21-15, 15-21, 21-10; Kenichi Tago (Jpn) bt Sourabh Varma 19-21, 21-16, 21-14; B. Sai Praneeth bt Iskandar Zulkamain Zainuddin (Mas) 16-21, 29-27, 21-16.

Women: Yui Hashimoto (Jpn) bt Saina Nehwal 13-21, 21-12, 22-20; P.V. Sindhu bt Sun Yu (Chn) 19-21, 21-19, 21-15.

Ratchanok Intanon (Tha) bt Tsz Ka Chan (Hkg) 21-6, 21-9; Arundhati Pantawane bt Neha Pandit 21-18, 22-20; Nichaon Jindapon bt Eriko Hirose (Jpn) 24-22, 21-16.

Aprilla Yuswandari (Ina) bt Minatsu Mitani (Jap) 27-25, 23-21; Yeon Ju Bae (Kor) bt Saili Rane 21-16, 21-19.

Juliane Schenk (Ger) bt Busanan Ongbumrungpan (Tha) 21-17, 21-12.

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