Saina Nehwal went down fighting to Xuerui Li of China in the second round of the French Open super series badminton tournament in Paris on Thursday. Fourth seed Saina lost 18-21, 29-30 in a 48-minute tussle.
It turned out to be a disastrous day as Ajay Jayaram and the Commonwealth Games gold medallists, Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa, too, suffered defeats.
Jayaram, who reached the second round after beating compatriot R.M.V. Guru Sai Dutt on Wednesday, suffered a 19-21, 14-21 loss to sixth seed Chinese Jin Chen in 46 minutes.
Jwala and Ashwini couldn't get past the sixth-seeded Korean combination of Jung Eun Ha and Min Jung Kim, losing 13-21 12-21 in a contest that lasted 27 minutes.
Slugging it out
After a second round exit from the Denmark Open last week, Saina was hoping to do better this time. It was a close battle in the first game as Saina and Li went neck and neck till 18-18. However, the Chinese won the next three points to clinch the game.
In the second, Li opened up a 9-4 lead but the Indian caught up at 10-10, and even went on to lead 18-13. But, Li reeled off five straight points to draw parity. From 18-18, it became 29-29 as both players slugged it out.
However, it was Li who won the last point to triumph 30-29. — PTI