As the match anticipated to be tricky, Saina Nehwal failed to defeat her long time nemesis Tai Tzu Ying with a disappointing 14-21, 18-21 in the opening round at the All England Open Championships 2018, Birmingham.
It was always a tough encounter for Saina against Tai.
In the first game, Saina made unforced baseline errors to trail with 2-5. With her deceptive shots, the Taipei girl cruised to 9-5 to her advantage before Nehwal reduced the gap with 9-8. By the half time, the defending champion Tai, was with one point advantage with 11-10.
Saina's deceptions have stood out in this game and have helped her to make a comeback. The opponents exchanged the leads; Saina’s footwork and Tai’s spray of errors here and there, the scoreline read 14-14. Tai slowly started building up the lead with her amazing crosscourt hits and angled shots to go down the wire. Tai simply raised her level and Saina failed to match it and lost the first game with 14-21.
After switching the sides, the Indian gathered some stride. With Tai’s unforced errors, Saina raced ahead to lead with 4-1. Saina pressured Tai with her amazing comeback. With the series of errors committed by the Taipei girl, Saina stood with three-point advantage with an ease by the break with 11-8.
Slowly, Tai displayed her skills, yet trailed with 11-16. The players pared the score at 18-18, followed by Saina finding the difficulty in returning the bird from Tai’s super drop shot and gave away the point to the world no. 1 to make the score 19-18 to Tai’s advantage. Saina, yet, faced another defeat to make it eight against Tai Tzu Ying, after the latter scored two straight match points to wrap the match with 21-18 to her disappointment.
Saina forced to do a lot of legwork and pressured the knees for low-shots. This is a good sign that Saina remained untroubled to move around the court, after her career threatening knee injury in 2016, followed by series of surgeries and rehabs.
The former world no. 1 and All England runner-up performed pretty well with the improvement in her fitness level.