Hyderabadi Saina creates history at Olympics

Saina Nehwal today created history by becoming the first Indian shuttler to reach the semifinals of the Olympics.

Fourth seeded Saina relied on a fine blend of attack and defence to prevail over fifth seeded Tine Baun of Denmark 21-15 22-20 in a 39-minute women’s singles match to keep her medals hopes alive here.

The 22-year-old Indian will now take on world No 1 and World champion Yihan Wang of China in the semifinals, whom she hasn’t beaten once in her last five encounters.

World No 5 Saina, one of the few genuine medal contenders remaining in the fray, displayed some brilliant badminton as she clinched the first set in 16 minutes and had to sweat a little harder in the second set which lasted 21 minutes.

With this win, the Hyderabadi also bettered her quarterfinal finish at the Beijing Games four years ago and also excorcised the demons of her painful defeat to Maria Kristin Yulianti of Indonesia in the quarterfinals.

“I’m so happy as it’s one of my dreams to play in the Olympic semifinals. Last time in the quarterfinals of the Olympics, I was 11-3 up … I still can’t forget that,” Saina said after the match.

“It is a dream come for me and I’m so, so happy. I really, really can’t believe it,” she added.

On meet Yihan in the semis, Saina said: “She’s a great player. She’s performed so well for so very long.” [PTI]

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