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Olympics: Saina enters last 16

August 10, 2008 09:31 IST
Last Updated: August 10, 2008 11:48 IST

Saina Nehwal [Images], India's best bet in badminton, soaked whatever her Ukrainian opponent Larysa Gryga threw at her before delivering the knockout punch to pocket a pre-quarterfinal berth in the women's singles event at the 2008 Olympics [Images] in Beijing [Images] on Sunday.

Playing under a laden sky at the Beijing University of Technology Gymnasium, the Indian took time to gauge her opponent, whom she played for the first time, before pulling out all the stops to tame her 21-18, 21-10 in just 28 minutes.

Saina's real test, however, begins now, for the Indian is set to lock horns on Monday with world number five and fourth seed Chen Wang of Hong Kong, someone she could not beat in her last two attempts.

"It's going to be tough, no question about that," Saina, bathed in sweat, said after the second round match.

"We met twice so far and on all two occasions, she won. But at the same time, both the matches went right down to the wire, which means she had to break sweat getting past me. I cannot predict the outcome but I can assure all that I would put my 100 percent tomorrow," she said.

On today'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.

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