Saina Nehwal advances in badminton singles (pic)


Saina Nehwal used the atmosphere she described as 'electrifying' to propel herself to a comfortable win in the first round of the Women's singles badminton competition on Saturday.

The 18-year-old Saina thrashed Russian Ella Karachkova 21-9, 21-8 in just 28 minutes to move into the round of 32 where she meets Gryga Larysa.

Larysa beat Agnes Allegrini 21-15, 21-11 in another match.

"I found the Olympic atmosphere electrifying and enjoyed it thoroughly. I had a comfortable time and did not have to exert myself or use too much of smashes. I relied on the drop shots and they worked well enough," said Nehwal, who could run into China's fourth seed Wang Chen in the round of 16.

The Indian star has been training with former All England champion Pullela Gopichand. She dominated the match from the start and ran up huge leads early in both games and then built on them to wrap up the match.

Saina, a good all-round player, kept her opponent pinned to the back court and then effectively dropped the shuttle dead right in front. The long rallies also helped her get used to the atmosphere, which could be pressure filled as and when she comes across a local Chinese player.

She also attacked Karachkova's serve and gave her no room to find her feet in the match.

On Sunday, India's men's entry, Anup Sridhar, the World No. 29 will begin his campaign against Marco Vasconcelos of Portugal. In other matches, world No. 11 Park Sunghwan of the Republic of Korea, the winner of the 2008 Badminton Asia Championships, will compete against Canada's Andrew Dabeka.

The women's singles round of 32 will see matches with the big favourites in action. Most of them had byes in the first round. Eight of the world's top 10 have qualified for the Beijing Olympics and all of them will join the competition on Sunday.

World No. 1 Xie Xingfang of China, also the tournament's top seed, will meet World No. 25 Cheng Shao-Chieh from Chinese Taipei. World No. 2 Lu Lan, also a Chinese player, will compete with Karen Foo Kune of Mauritius.

France's Pi Hongyan, who ranks fifth in the world, will face Claudia Rivero of Peru, while World No. 4 Denmark's Tine Rasmussen will meet Akvile Stapusaityte from Lithuania. World No. 6 Wang Chen from Hong Kong will play Eva Sladekova of Slovakia.


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