Saina canters into semis, meets Wang Yihan next
Saina Nehwal lit up another gloomy day for India at the Olympic Games by storming her way into the women's singles semi-finals while shooting medal hope Ronjan Sodhi fell by the wayside on Thursday.
Hyderabad's Saina exhibited excellent courtcraft and unflinching attitude to defeat senior rival and two-time All England champion Tine Baun of Denmark 21-15, 22-20 in a pulsating quarter-final clash that lasted 37 minutes.
Saina, thus, became the first-ever badminton player from the country to reach the last four stage in the quadrennial sports spectacle since 1992 when the shuttle game was introduced as a medal sport.
In 2008 at Beijing, the 22-year-old player had created history by becoming the first shuttler from India to reach the quarter-finals.
Saina next meets world no. 1 Wang Yihan in the semi-finals and a victory in that match would ensure at least a silver medal for her
Image: India's Saina Nehwal celebrates winning against Denmark's Tine Baun during their womens singles badminton quarterfinals match
Photographs: REUTERS/Bazuki Muhammad
Kashyap goes down fighting
However, it was end of the road for Kashyap after his gallant fight against world No 2 and top seed Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia in a gruelling quarterfinal of the men's singles lost 19-21, 11-21 at the Wembley Arena.
Kashyap dived, smashed, retrieved almost everything thrown at him but still could not stop the top seed Malaysian as he eked out a 21-19 21-11 victory to advance to the semi-finals at the Wembley Areana here.
In the first game, Kashyap dominated the show from the beginning and was dictating the pace of the game as he opened up a 11-8 lead at the interval.
But Chong Wei varied the pace of the rallies and clawed back to level the scores at 15-15. Kashyap matched his superior rival stroke by stroke and didn't give up and was leading 19-18.
But in the end, it was the experienced Malaysian who pocketed the game as he forced the Indian to commit errors and registered three quick points to edge past him.
Image: India's Kashyap Parupalli plays against Malaysia's Chong Wei Lee during their mens singles badminton quarterfinals match
Photographs: REUTERS/Bazuki Muhammad
Bhagwan bows out in pre-quarters
Indian pugilist Jai Bhagwan crashed out of the London Olympics, bowing out in the pre-quarterfinals of the men's light weight category (60kg).
After starting on an impressive note, Bhagwan lost steam in the second and third rounds to go down 8-16 to Gani Zhailauov of Kazakhstan at the ExCel arena.
Contrary to the final result, it was the 12th ranked Indian who started the bout on an aggressive note and pipped his opponent in the opening round with powerful staraight punches.
Leading 2-3 after the end of the first round, Bhagwan simply lost his touch and rhythm in the next round as eighth-ranked Zhailauov made a ferocious comeback into the bout.
A change of tactic seemed to have worked wonders for the Kazakh boxer as Bhagwan looked lazy in the second round. Zhailauov, seeded fifth in the Games, simply ran away with the second round pocketing it 10-3, which includes three penalty points awarded against the Indian for continously ducking his head.
Going into the final round trailing by a whopping six points, Bhagwan needed an extra-ordinary display to close the gap but it was not to be as his Kazakh opponent once again came out on top, thereby dashing the hopes of Indian boxing fans.
Image: Kazakhstan's Gani Zhailauov (L) fights against India's Jai Bhagwan in their Men's Light (60kg) Round of 16 boxing match
Photographs: REUTERS/Murad Sezer
Sodhi flops big time
India's big shooting medal hope Ronjan Sodhi flopped miserably on Thursday.Sodhi, a medal favourite prior to the Games along with Beijing Olympics hero Abhinav Bindra and Gagan Narang, put up a miserable display in the second and third rounds after starting promisingly with a score of 48 out of 50 in the opening round that put paid to his hopes.
Image: Ronjan Sodhi
Photographs: Getty Images
Paes, Sania win opener
As dusk settled India's lone hope in tennis - the mixed doubles pair of Paes and Sania took one step closer to clinching a medal in the 16-strong draw by winning their opening encounter.
The duo defeated the Serbian pair of Nenad Zimonjic and Ana Ivanovic 6-2, 6-4 to reach the quarter finals.
Paes and Sania will now face top seed Victoria Azarenka and Max Mirnyi of Belarius in the next round.
Paes and new partner Vishnu Vardhan had gone down to Jo Wilfred Tsonga and Michael Llodra in the men's doubles first round contest on Wednesday.
Photograph: Harish Kotian