Saina Nehwal crushes second seed Yamaguchi

10/18/2018 4:19 PM | |  Sebastian Skov Andersen
Saina Newahl opens the 2nd round of play with a crushing victory, sending the second seed in the women’s singles category and tournament favorite, Akane Yamaguchi, back to the airport. The Japanese superstar had won the previous six match-ups between the two, but failed to follow suit early Thursday morning at DANISA DENMARK OPEN 2018 presented by VICTOR. 

- I am really surprised. She [Yamaguchi, ed.] has had a couple of very good years, said Nehwal when asked how she felt after finally beating Yamaguchi. 

Nehwal, who is currently currently ranked by BWF as the world’s Nr. 11, defeated world Nr. 2, Yamaguchi, rather comfortably in just two games with a score of 21-15/21-17. 

The first half of game one was characterized by inconsistency from both sides, neither player able to get a firm grasp on the other. The 28 year-old Indian opened the match with four unforced errors but soon rose from her slumber and scored six consecutive points on a combination of forceful and well-placed smashes and elementary mistakes from the Japanese 21 year-old. From then on and up until the mid-game break, the players traded points with irregular play, and Nehwal managed a one point lead going into the second half of the first game. 

From then on, Nehwal took control and scored several quick points. Yamaguchi came out looking unsharp, struggling to find not only the net but also the baseline. At 19-12, the Indian underdog looked to go into the second game with a 1-0 advantage and did not fail to follow through, concluding the first game with a score of 21-15. 

The Japanese favorite came into the second game looking refreshed and in control, finding her smash and variety in her play, and taking an early lead of 4-0. From then on, the players traded points, Yamaguchi winning the longer duels and controlling the play, and Nehwal scoring points on Japanese errors. Yamaguchi led 11-8 going into the break. 

After the break, Nehwal shifted her pace and found her defence. Yamaguchi sacked behind in duels, and Nehwal took five straight points on strong, confident play: 13-11. Moving on, things looked eerily similar to the early part of the second game, Nehwal falling behind in duels and Yamaguchi looking comfortable, retaking the lead at 16-17. The streak soon came to and end, however, and Nehwal rapidly regained control and finished off her opponent with a final score of 21-17. 

- I think everyone here has great chances. The competition is high, and I just want to give it my best, added Nehwal before heading towards the changing rooms after the match. 

Akane Yamaguchi is not the first favorite of the day to suffer an early exit, the Chinese world Nr. 2s in the mixed double category, Wang/Huang, lost just minutes earlier to Puavaranukroh/Taerattanachai from Thailand: 14-21/15/21.   


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