Saina in pre-quarters at Olympics

Ace Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal beat Ukrainian Larysa Gryga in straight games to advance to the women's singles pre-quarterfinals.

updated: August 14, 2008 16:55 IST
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Ace Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal continued her fine form, beating Ukrainian Larysa Gryga in straight games to advance to the women's singles pre-quarterfinals of the badminton competition at the Olympic Games on Sunday.

Saina beat Gryga 21-18, 21-10 to make the last 16 and would now be up against the winner of the match between world number three Hong Kong's Chen Wang and Slovakia's Eva Sladekova.

Unlike the easy first-round win, the national champion was up for a tough challenge on Sunday and the first game went neck-and-neck before Saina edged past to grab the lead.

The Indian seemed more at ease with the hot and humid conditions in the Chinese capital compared to Gryga, who found it tough to maintain her energy levels in the second game and gave up rather timidly.

On Sunday's match, the 18-year-old Indian said she had to wait for her moment before going for the kill.

"I had not played her earlier, so of course I could not go all out right from the word go. She played a tactical game and played more of down shots, like smash and half-smash and I too made some mistakes. So I needed time to pick her," said Saina.

Asked about the tips she got from coach Pullela Gopichand in between the games, she said, "He told me to keep it straight to negate her tactics of playing it across and it paid off."

Though beating Wang might prove a Herculean task, Saina exuded confidence of being third time lucky against her illustrious peer.

"For me, now each and every match is like the final. I'm feeling so good. My movements were great and shots were excellent too. There was no particular area I felt uncomfortable about. The crowd is great you hardly see so many people cheering badminton players and the atmosphere is electric. I would put my best foot forward tomorrow," said the badminton ace from Hyderabad.