Ace Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal overcame a jittery start to defeat spirited Korean Seung Hee Bae and enter the second round of the All England Badminton Championships here.
The fifth-seeded Indian beat Bae 21-13 21-16 in 34 minutes to set up a clash with Tzu Ying Tai after the Chinese Taipei player beat Bulgaria’s Linda Zechiri.
Saina found it hard to adjust to the drift initially, which she said was equally fast on both sides of the court, making it very difficult to play out long rallies.
“When I started the match, I was making a lot of mistakes. I was not really able to adjust to the drift which was on both sides of the court. It was quite shocking to see that because normally it is fast on one side and slow on the other but today it was equally fast on both sides,” the 21-year-old said after the match.
Admittedly jittery in the opening game, Saina said she gained in confidence as the match progressed, banking mainly on smashes to fetch the winners.
“In the second game, I was quite confident. I took a big lead but then she came back strong. In the end, my smashes helped. They were going good and saved me at that stage,” she said.
With two top players —Tine Baun and Yihan Wang — pulling out of the tournament, the world number five Indian has a very favourable draw devoid of any Chinese players in her half but she said it is more unnerving than reassuring because the expectations will be high from her.
“I feel more nervous this time because all the other girls are good. Even my next round opponent is tough. You can’t really take anyone lightly. I am just hoping that I do well,” she said.
In other matches, India’s mixed doubles duo, Jwala Gutta and V.Diju, went down 11-21, 21-21 to fifth seeds Tao Jiaming and Qing Tian of China. In men’s singles, P. Kashyap and Ajay Jayaram crashed out of the event while men’s doubles pair of Rupesh Kumar and Sanave Thomas sailed through the first round. The duo beat Malaysia’s Teik Chai Gan and Bin Shen Tan.