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Saina wins bronze after injury stops Xin Wang

Last updated on: August 4, 2012 20:17 IST

Image: Saina Nehwal
Photographs: AP Photo/Andres Leighton

Ace shuttler Saina Nehwal earned India its third medal at the London Games, clinching a bronze under fortuitous circumstances.

-London Olympics 2012 - Complete coverage

Her opponent, world No 2 Xin Wang of China conceded the third-place play-off match, after winning the first game, because of a knee injury.

The fourth seeded Indian had saved four game points in a dramatic fightback and was down 18-20 when left-handed Xin twisted her knee while going for an acrobatic smash from the baseline.

-Congratulate Saina Nehwal

Xin could not continue

Image: Saina Nehwal with Xin Wang
Photographs: Michael Regan/Getty Images

She received on-court treatment for the injury and was back on court after strapping her left knee and immediately attacked Saina's serve to win a point and the game to go 1-0 up in the match.

But after winning the first point in the second game, Xin could not continue and winced in pain. She walked up to Saina, shook the 22-year-old Indian's hand and conceded the match.

Saina is thus the first Indian badminton player to win a medal at the Olympics. She reached the quarter-finals at the Beijing Games four years ago.

It was the second day running that India won a medal, following pistol shooter Vijay Kumar's silver on Friday.

-Congratulate Saina Nehwal

The Chinese was better prepared

Photographs: Saurabh Das/AP Photo

Earlier, chants of 'India, India' welcomed Saina as she entered the Wembley Arena, carrying a billion hopes of a medal.

Up against Xin, she approached the match with a lot of confidence and quickly opened up a 3-0 lead, but the Chinese used her drops and cross-court smashes to dictate the pace of the rallies and narrowed the gap.

Saina's unforced errors also did not help her cause and, in a jiffy, Xin was up 11-6 at the break.

The Chinese was better prepared as she tossed the shuttle to both corners of the court to set up scoring opportunities. Saina tried to engage Xin at the net but played into her hands.

-Congratulate Saina Nehwal

Saina, only the second Indian woman to win an Olympic medal

Photographs: Saurabh Das/AP Photo

The Chinese, who had beaten Saina four times in six meetings, exploited the forecourt area and notched points with ease. Saina tried to play the shuttle deep but, most of the time, ended up hitting wide or long.

Xin moved to the game point at 20-14 with an angled drop but Saina was not ready to let it go so easily and used her sharp drops and cross-court half smashes to save four game points.

Xin then strained her knee and walked off the court. She was attended by the tournament doctor but after a chat with her coach and a bandage wrapped around her left knee walked back and took the first game with a drop shot.

No sooner did the second game start than Xin was writhed in pain again as she sat on the court, holding her knee. After a few moments, she conceded the tie, and bronze medal to the Indian.

With this victory, Saina also became only the second Indian woman, after Karnam Malleshwari (Sydney Olympics in weightlifting) to win a medal in the world's biggest sporting event.

-Congratulate Saina Nehwal

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