Nehwal makes badminton history

Published Aug 13, 2009

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By Manoj Vatsyayana

Hyderabad - Teen sensation Saina Nehwal became the first Indian woman to qualify for the World badminton championships quarter-finals with a tough win against Bulgarian Petya Nedelcheva on Thursday.

The 19-year-old came back strongly after losing the opening game to post an 18-21, 21-18, 21-10 victory, much to the delight of the spectators.

Sixth-seeded Nehwal will now clash with second-seeded Chinese Wang Lin, a 21-10, 23-21 winner over Korean Hwang Hye Youn.

Juliane Schenk knocked fourth-seeded Chinese Wang Yihan out of the championships with a 21-18, 21-15 win to advance to the quarter-finals.

Wang was the lone seeded Chinese shuttler to fall as Lin Dan and Chen Jin entered the men's quarter-finals while Xie Xingfang, Lu Lan and Wang Lin made it to the women's singles last-eight.

"The Chinese are very strong, but I don't think they are unbeatable," said 11th-seeded Schenk.

"I didn't have any goal coming into the tournament. I just believed in myself and focused on my game. I just wanted to do well and make her work hard for each point. It is a great feeling."

The German will clash with eighth-seeded Pi Hongyan of France, a 21-13, 21-14 winner against 15th-seeded Indonesian Maria Kristin Yulianti.

India's challenge ended in the men's singles, with Chetan Anand losing 21-16, 21-16 to Indonesian Sony Dwi Kuncoro.

Sixth-seeded Kuncoro will take on world number one Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia, who beat Tien Minh Nguyen of Vietnam 21-13, 21-17.

Lin and Peter Gade of Denmark earlier set up a repeat of their Olympic clash when they stormed into the quarters.

Lin, aiming to become the first shuttler to bag three successive world titles, proved too strong for Dicky Palyama of the Netherlands as he raced to a 21-11, 21-11 victory.

Third-seeded Gade beat 10th-seeded Chan Yan Kit of Hong Kong 21-11, 21-12.

"The pressure will be on him because I think he won't like to lose to an old guy," said the 32-year-old Gade, who was beaten by Lin in the quarter-finals of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

"I have beaten him at home a few years ago, so I think I can beat him here also. I am going to give everything I have got. I am going to fight for each point. I can play freely because he is the favourite.

"I am so far happy with my performance. This is what I wanted to do before the quarter-finals. Chan played some wonderful shots, but I kept pressure on him. It will be a different match tomorrow."

Lin said he had not expected such an easy win against Palyama, who had upset 11th-seeded Chinese Bao Chun Lai in the opening round.

"I have met him before, but it was never as easy as today. I watched his game (against Bao) and knew what to expect," said Lin, who won the world title in 2006 and 2007.

"But the match against Gade will be different as he played well in the Olympics also."

The other quarter-finals will be contested between Indonesian Taufik Hidayat and Denmark's Jan O Jorgensen, and Chinese Chen Jin and Indonesian Simon Santoso.

World number one Zhou Mi of Hong Kong moved into the women's singles quarter-finals with a 21-11, 21-18 win over Japanese Ai Goto.

Mi will clash with fifth-seeded Chinese Xie Xingfang, who overcame stiff resistance from Thailand's Salakjit Ponsana with a 21-16, 14-21, 21-9 victory.

Seventh-seeded Chinese Lu Lan will take on third-seeded Tine Rasmussen of Denmark in another quarter-final. - Sapa-AFP

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