LONDON: China made sure of at least two gold medals in the Olympics badminton when Wang Yihuan, the top-seeded world number one, reached the final of the women’s singles.
Wang did that with a 21-13, 21-15 win over Saina Nehwal, the fourth-seeded Commonwealth champion who was the first Indian player to have reached the semi-finals of any Olympic event. Wang will face compatriot Li Xuerui in the final, while Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei face Xu Chen and Ma Jin late last night in an all-Chinese mixed doubles title match.
For the first time in the Games, Wang Yihuan found the same heavy artillery, with sudden smashes and lunging kills at the net, that she used when taking the world title in this same Wembley arena a year ago. By contrast Nehwal, perhaps feeling the pressure of huge national expectations, looked tense and leg-weary and did not reproduce the level she reached while beating Tine Baun, the former world number one from Denmark, in the quarter-finals.
“She was strong and moving pretty well, and I was not moving so well at all today,” said Nehwal. “I didn’t play so good, and I was struggling to make some strokes. I was feeling a little bit nervous and didn’t play freely. Perhaps I wasn’t taking enough time. But she played excellently. I didn’t see her play so well as this in the previous rounds.”
Published in The Express Tribune, August 4th, 2012.