Saina exists Swiss Open in first round, road to Olympics gets tougher
Saina Nehwal is the first Indian to get a medal at the Olympics in Badminton but it was an achievement of 2012. Switch to 2021, it has been established by her recent performances that the athlete has not been able to replicate the same form. The Olympic bronze medalist crashed out of the first round in the ongoing Swiss Open 300-tournament.
Before Covid-19 pandemic hit the world, the shuttler was already having a hard time finishing games. Since 2019, she has had a total of ten instances where she has seen a scoreline of 20-19 and the match has gone into a deuce. Despite having the advantage, the shuttler could not convert those match winning points into scoreboard and lost all the matches.
Saina has said time and again that she is very much part of the race to appear at the Olympics at Tokyo this year but as experts have been evaluating her performance, her chances seem more and more in danger.
She lost to an opponent from Thailand Phittayaporn Chaiwan, who is 10 years younger to her. This has definitely impacted the chances of her qualifying for the Olympics. Even for Thailand open, she did not progress to advanced rounds and lost early to opponents deeded below her.
The shuttler engaged her Thal opponent for 58 minutes, which started with her losing the first round but she bounced back. The shuttler won the second round 21-17 and the decider reached 21-23 and even though the 30-year-old was initially leading the third round but eventually gave in after suffering deuce twice.
It was evident that she was trying to fight back but the winning shot and spirit that Nehwal used to show 10 years ago. The former world number one has been losing easy games against opponents who are ranked much lower than her.
Other star Indian shuttler, PV Sindhu qualified for round 16 beating Turkey’s Yegit Neslihan, who was ranked lower than her. Sindhu too was not looking her best while fighting the opponent but it remains to be seen in coming days if she recovers from this lag that came during the pandemic.
Saina Nehwal is struggling with her signature power shots and has shifted from her attacking game to defensive. She started playing more cross court soft placement shots, which might have regained her a few points, but the lack of aggression on court has definitely cost her.