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Saina crashes out in controversial circumstances

April 25, 2013 22:16 IST

Title favourite and world number two Saina Mirza suffered a shock defeat at the hands of unseeded Yui Hashimoto of Japan in controversial circumstances to crash out of the Yonex Sunrise India Open Super Series in New Delhi.

An error-prone Saina, seeded top in the tournament, lost her women's singles second round match 21-13, 12-21, 20-22 in a contest that lasted one hour and two minutes.

The match was, however, marred by a contentious line call at the fag end of the crucial deciding game when Saina was leading 20-17 and about to wrap up the tie in her favour.

Saina NehwalThe line call went against Saina and it was apparent from her body language that she felt upset by the decision. The Japanese then pounced on the chance to reel off five straight points to win the match.

It was a sort of repeating history as Saina, then world number five, had bowed out of the same tournament last year in round two against Korea's Youn Joo Bae.

The home crowd that turned up to cheer Saina were on their feet as the opening game turned out to be a cake-walk for the London Olympic bronze medallist Indian and her opponent got points mainly due to unforced errors from her.

Despite hitting the net on a number of occasions, Saina cruised past the Japanese in the opening game by a big margin of 21-13.

However, to the dismay of home supporters, the scenario completely changed in the second game. The Japanese, who was hardly a match for Saina in the opening game, started dictating terms. The two opponents were at par till 5-5 before the Japanese took full advantage of Saina's unforced errors.

Hashimoto opened up a 11-6 lead and, although Saina won a few points, the Japanese girl ran away with the second game 21-12 to take the match to the decider.

The decider was a hard-fought battle as it involved long rallies and fierce competition from both sides. The two players kept breaking each other to take it to 16-all before Saina made it 18-17. There was another long rally, which Saina managed to win with her powerful smash to take it to 19-17.

To everyone's delight, Saina clinched another point for a 20-17 lead and was playing for the match. Just when she seemed all prepared to seal the match, a line call by the umpire, which she thought should have gone her way, upset Saina.

That apparently disturbed her rhythm as the Japanese won five straight points to seal the second game 22-20 and won the match.

Photograph: Michael Regan/Getty Images

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