Saina Nehwal was stunned by Germany’s Juliane Schenk in the women’s singles semifinal, as India’s campaign came to an end in the Japan Open Super Series badminton tournament in Tokyo on Saturday.
Fourth-seeded Saina lost 19-21, 10-21 to her eighth-seeded rival in a contest lasting 39 minutes.
In the closely fought first game, Saina and Schenk went neck and neck all through, but at 19-19, the German nosed ahead to go one up on her more fancied Indian rival.
The opener was contested hard, but the second game turned out to be a one-sided affair after Schenk broke free at 10-10. The German outwitted Saina with her superior net play, fetching seven net winners against the Indian’s one.
“Saina played really well in the first game. She was matching Juliane’s strokes and had consistency in her game,” said Madhumita Bisht, coach of the Indian badminton contingent.
However, the Indian looked out of breath in the second game and once Schenk stepped up the speed, she crumbled. “Nothing went in her favour in the second game. Her game was slow and her smashes, which are her strength, did not work for her at all. It is sad as she could have reached the finals but these things are a part of the game,” Bisht added.