Saina crashes out, Jwala-Ashwini roll on | othersports | Hindustan Times
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Saina crashes out, Jwala-Ashwini roll on

othersports Updated: Aug 12, 2011 21:57 IST


Saina Nehwal's quarterfinal jinx continued but Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa scripted history by becoming India's first-ever women's doubles pair to reach the semifinals of World Badminton Championship at the Wembley arena in London on Friday.

World number six Saina, who reached the quarterfinals in the last two editions of the event, had to be contend with yet another last-eight finish as she lost 15-21 10-21 to world number three Wang Xin of China in a lop-sided women's singles match.

But the day belonged to Jwala and Ashiwni as the Commonwealth Games gold medallist pair registered a gritty 17-21 21-10 21-17 upset victory over 12th seeds Vita Marissa and Nadya Melati of Indonesia in a 47-minute duel.

The world number 21 pair will next face fifth seeds Qing Tian and Yunlei Zhao of China, who beat fourth seeds Mizuki Fujii and Reika Kakiiwa of Japan 21-16 21-10 in another quarterfinal match.

Earlier, Saina was not in her elements today as she struggled with her strokes and also committed too many unforced errors to hand over the match to the former world number one Chinese.

Playing with the breeze in the first game, Saina kept her shuttle up during her serves and took a 4-2 lead, but Xin caught the Indian off-guard at the cross court to draw parity before breaking off at 9-9.

Saina faltered with her baseline strokes and also failed to negotiate the sharp shots of the Chinese as Xin registered five straight points to move to 14-9, before holding her fort to grab the first game.

The second game started off with long rallies but Xin soon started attacking as Saina panicked and ended up giving a 4-10 lead to the Chinese.

Even though coach Pullela Gopichand tried to motivate Saina, the gulf could not be bridged as Xin controlled the game while anticipating the shots from the Indian.

Two unforced errors from Xin helped Saina to gain a couple of odd points but with the Indian struggling with her strokes and succumbing to error in judgement, she allowed her Chinese opponent to seal the issue rather comfortably in the end.

Saina had lost to Xin thrice before but defeated the Chinese in the Sudirman Cup in May.

While Saina's loss left the Indian camp in despair, Jwala and Ashwini's memorable victory brought smiles back to the country's contingent.

The Indian pair was lagging in the first game as they allowed their Indonesian rivals to open up a 6-1 lead. Though they caught up with them at 17-17, Jwala and Ashwini couldn't go all the way.

However, the world number 21 pair roared back into contention in the second game. The duo first slowly moved their way to 7-7 before reeling off seven and six straight points respectively to leave the Indonesians bamboozled.

In the decider, both the pairs locked themselves in a see-saw battle and were going neck and neck from 4-4 to 12-12 before breaking off.