Asian Games 2018: Saina Nehwal ends 36-year old wait, wins badminton bronze medal
Saina Nehwal clinched bronze after losing to reigning World No. 1 Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei in the Asian Games 2018 women’s singles badminton semifinal on Monday.
The Indian shuttler went down fighting against her higher-ranked opponent as the match ended 17-21, 14-21 in 36 minutes.
This is the first time that an Indian woman shuttler has claimed a singles medal at the Asian Games and it was also the first singles medals in badminton after the 1982 Asiad when Syed Modi won the bronze.
Coming into this match, Saina had lost her last nine matches against Tzu Ying, including three in the 2018 season.
Both Saina and Tzu Ying attacked each other’s backhand but it was the Chinese Taipei player who scored more points. She raced to a 4-1 lead in the opening game.
Saina changed her strategy a bit by hitting more deep returns and then looked for drop shots. It worked for her and soon it was 8-8.
Tzu Ying though kept spraying smashes on Saina’s backhand and took the first break with a narrow 11-10 lead.
The Chinese Taipei shuttler took four straight points to zoom to a 15-10 cushion, leaving Saina to play the catch up game.
Tactically sound and supremely fit Tzu Ying retrieved almost everything thrown at her.
At 19-16, Tzu Ying hit another smash on Saina’s backhand to grab her first game point and converted it when the Indian sailed over the baseline.
In the second game also, Saina was again playing the catch up game. Tzu Ying never looked like losing control though Saina tried hard to breach her rival’s defense.
Saina led for the first time in the match when Tzu Ying left a shuttle and it fell in at 12-12. A net chord also helped Saina take a point but Tzu Ying reclaimed lead on an unforced error from Saina.
Tzu Ying cruised to win from there with Saina sending a backhand wide.
(with PTI Inputs)