Kolkata: Star Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal lost to Nozomi Okuhara 21-12, 17-21 and 10-21 in the semi-final in the women’s singles event of the World Badminton Championships on Saturday in Glasgow. The 27-year old went on to blame the cramped scheduling of the matches for her defeat.
Earlier she had battled Kirsty Gilmour in the quarter-final in a one-hour and fourteen minute match in the afternoon session on Friday and within a span of less than 24 hours, she had to gear up for the all-important semi-final of the World Badminton Championships in the morning session on Saturday. Both the quarter-final and semi-final that she played were three setters hence it took a toll on her as she hasn’t yet recovered from a knee injury.
A frustrated Saina said after the match, “Clearly when you play tough matches, it is tiring. I thought we would play in the second session but scheduling was kept like that. (It is) surprising because we do not have enough time to recover and take the necessary steps because I just could not. I just slept.”
The London Olympic Bronze medalist had been in good form throughout the tournament and was one of the strongest contenders for the title. Had there been some time for her to recuperate and relax after a tough quarter-final, she could have made it to the finals and possibly won a gold on Sunday.
But the silver medalist of the 2015 edition of the World Championships had to stay content with a notch below
after her defeat at the Emirates Arena.
Saina however didn’t use this as an excuse as she said, “Well it is okay because it is the same thing with her (Nozomi), so no excuse for that. I also got tired because of the match yesterday which was quite tough. She (Kirsty Gilmour) was hitting good smashes for which I had to bend a lot; that way it was quite tough for me.”
The Hyderabadi shuttler had begun on a strong note, winning first set but went on to lose the second and third sets to surrender the match to Nozomi.
While speaking on the match, she said, “The only thing that changed between the second and third game was that she started picking those difficult shots and started taking the game longer. I tried my level best to push my pace and play longer rallies but she was comfortable and pretty good today.”
She also added, “I am happy I am playing well and coming back. I could have pushed a little more today but she was everywhere. In the third game, I was confused and when you do not have an idea where to play, then you start making errors and she took a big lead. I tried to come back but it was quite late.”
The world no.16 is yet to recover from her knee injury but her performance in the World Badminton Championships is indeed praiseworthy.