Badminton star Saina Nehwal failed to cross the hurdle in the women's singles quarterfinals and went down fighting 8-21, 21-8, 19-21 to Yip Pui Yin of Hong Kong at the Tianhe Gymnasium here on Thursday.
The World No. 3 overcame an indifferent start to gain control over the proceedings, but the 12th-ranked Yip Pui Yin proved better in the climax to register a memorable win in 46 minutes.
It was an anti-climax for the sparse gathering comprising mostly Indians, as Saina made a service error on the second match point much to the delight of her opponent, who went around the court in celebration before returning to the net for the customary handshake.
In fact, the Hong Kong girl kept questioning Saina about the quality of the shuttle before her serves in the nerve-wracking third game and took a comfortable break to wipe herself clean before resuming play on her second matchpoint.
Despite all the ‘side-shows', Yin had the game to trouble her opponent and it was a brilliant smash that fetched her two matchpoints.
Saina saved the first after a tough rally as her opponent netted, but the service error brought a tame end to a thrilling contest.
After the Hong Kong girl literally ran away with the first game with deft drops and accurate smashes, Saina changed her strategy to good effect.
Being a seasoned campaigner, Saina did not lose her cool despite things not going in her favour. In the second game, Saina swung the match around with an all-round game and, more importantly, moved her opponent all round the court.
Even as Saina tightened her grip, her opponent started slipping into a series of errors.
Having paid back the opponent in the same coin in the second game, Saina meant business in the third as she made Yin dive all around, and peppered the court with smashes.
However, the Hong Kong girl hung on gamely, continuously letting out war cries to keep herself motivated, and managed to hang on to the slender lead with drops and placements.
Saina, too, came up with some sharp smashes to tilt the balance and managed to take a 16-14 lead with a drop after a see-saw battle.
It was here that the Hong Kong girl showed guts, as she won three points in a row to take the lead, smashing, tapping and making a drop, winning points rather than waiting for her opponent to make mistakes.
Every time Saina equalised, Yin shot back to go ahead. And it all boiled down to an anti-climactic finish much to the jubilation of the Hong Kong girl.
After the Commonwealth Games gold, it was indeed a jolt for Saina, but the young girl has a lot to learn, particularly when it comes to big events like the Asian Games, World championship, and Olympics.
Meanwhile, in men's singles, Arvind Bhat lost to Boonsak Ponsana 19-21, 12-21 in the round of 16.
In mixed doubles, G. Jwala and V. Diju went down 21-17, 13-21, 16-21 to Hyojung Lee and Baekcheol Shin of Korea in the round of 16.