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Saina Nehwal crashes out of World Championships

Paris: India’s Saina Nehwal crashed out of the World Badminton Championships losing 8-21, 14-21 to Chinese Shixian Wang in the quarterfinals at the Pierre de Coubertin stadium here on Friday.

With Saina’s fall it was the end of the road for India as the ninth-seeded mixed doubles pair of Jwala Gutta and V. Diju also went down to 12th-seeded Korean Sung Hyun Ko, seeded 12th, 16-21, 19-21.

Saina, who had been in a terrific form this season with three back-to-back titles including two Super Series crown, found the going tough against Wang in the 34-minute contest. In the first game, Saina and Wang were levelled at 6-6 before the Chinese took eight points in a row to take it beyond the Indian’s reach. A rattled Saina could take only two more points as Wang finished the game in a jiffy.

In the second game, Saina was again under pressure as Wang opened up a comfortable 8-2 lead. She consolidated her position even as Saina tried to fight back. It proved to be futile as the gap was too much for Saina to cover. In the mixed doubles, it became apparent mid-way through the first game when Diju clutched his lower back that movement at the back court was painful for him. Still he managed to earn points but the errors piled on.

“It was a struggle,” said Jwala. “We knew we were in a strong position having beaten the same team before but with Diju struggling it was difficult to maintain a set momentum. We knew we were the better team and it is very difficult to come to terms with this loss. Right after the match, Diju had to be rushed to the massage centre and I hope he recovers fast,” she added.

It was also curtains for the men’s doubles combination of Rupesh Kumar and Sanave Thomas, who lost to Denmark’s Lars Paaske and Jonas Rasmussen 16-21, 16-21 in the pre-quarters on Thursday. On a day of major upsets, World No 1 Lee Chong Wei and three-times champion Lin Dan tumbled out of the men’s singles.

Chong Wei lost 21-15, 11-21, 21-12 to Indonesian ace Taufik Hidayat in the quarter finals. Chinese hotshot Dan suffered a rude shock after he lost 21-13, 21-13 to Park Sung Hwan of Korea.

“Perhaps it’s not my luck to win the World Championship title,” said a dejected Chong Wei. “I don’t know what else to say. Maybe it’s not my day.” Chong Wei later admitted he was suffering from a back problem which he picked up after his round 3 match against England’s Rajiv Ouseph a day earlier.

“I never faced such a situation before but my back is rather swollen and my movements are quite restricted. That’s why I didn’t jump much and played more at the net.”

Taufik, meanwhile, admitted he was still in disbelief after chalking the victory against his long time buddy. “I can’t believe it,” said Taufik. “It was a tough game. Chong Wei’s fitness levels are really good but my concentration was better. That was the winning factor.

“I still believe that Chong Wei and Lin Dan (of China) are still the two best players out there. I prefer to take one match at a time before setting my sights far ahead. Let’s see what happens in the semi final.”

Also, in the men’s doubles, Xu Chen-Guo Zhendong ended former world champions Lars Paaske-Jonas Rasmussen of Denmark’s campaign with a 21-16, 23-21 win.

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