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HindustanTimes Sat,30 Aug 2014

Other Sport

Off-colour Saina shuttled out by world no 26 in final
HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, October 28, 2012
First Published: 21:24 IST(28/10/2012)
Last Updated: 02:39 IST(29/10/2012)

After two weeks of incredible badminton, Saina Nehwal was denied a second straight title by giant slayer Minatsu Mitani of Japan, when she stunned the world No 3 Indian in the final of the French Open.

The world No 26 won her first Super Series title - and also Japan's first in women's singles - and successfully avenged her last week's loss to Saina with a 21-19, 21-11 win in Paris on Sunday.

Saina's movements looked rusty and her strapped right knee did fuel talks of her being unfit, but chief national coach Pullela Gopi Chand said it was nothing to worry about.

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"We have been strapping her knee everyday 10-15 days before the Denmark Open (last week)," Gopi Chand told HT from Hyderabad. "It was a precautionary measure; she did not lose because of knee trouble."

He admitted though that two weeks of continuous playing could have been a reason that a "tired" Saina could not counter the speed of her opponent, giving full credit to Mitani for playing top-class badminton.

Indeed, Mitani dominated from the first game and though Saina came out of her trance to level at 19-19, it was a little too late.

In the second game, the Japanese's powerful and deceptive smashes proved too quick for the 22-year-old Hyderabadi. Mitani has defeated many top-10 players in the last couple of months and added the London Olympic bronze medallist to her growing list of prized scalps.

Even the men's singles saw a surprise winner in Malaysia's Daren Liew, ranked 24th in the world. The tournament was also the last for Danish veteran Peter Gade, who retired from competitive badminton with a quarterfinal loss on Friday.


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