World No.5 Saina Nehwal was left speechless and in tears at her own inexplicable capitulation in the second round of the India Open Superseries – a result that left the large crowd stunned and the event bereft of its biggest draw.
Nehwal, aiming to reclaim the India Open that she won in 2010 and seeking another big title win in the run-up to the Olympics, was stumped as much by her opponent Bae Youn Joo as by her own inability to overcome the loss of the first game. Saina fell 21-19 21-10.
Saina’s loss spoilt what was otherwise a dream day for India, with compatriots PV SIndhu, P Kashyap, and the doubles teams of Rupesh-Sanave and Jwala-Ashwini entering the third round.
The world No.5 looked in daunting touch early on in the game as she used her heavy smashes to force Bae on the defensive. For much of the game, Saina looked in control, and at 14-10, seemed to have a healthy lead, but a few errors began creeping in from time to time, and that allowed Bae to stay within striking distance. The Korean too played some delectable shots, using her left-handedness to great advantage. Saina had the advantage at 18-16, but overplayed some shots and suddenly the Korean had gone a game up.
Saina has fought back from such situations earlier, but this was a different day. She seemed to go completely blank in the second game. What made it strange was the lack of a fight, and that was so uncharacteristic of what we’ve come to see of Saina.
“I have nothing to say, sorry,” said the tearful 23-year-old, no doubt utterly destroyed by the prospect of going out so early in front of her home crowd.