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Asian Games: Nehwal Subdues 'Football Like' Home Crowd in Badminton Win

India's Saina Nehwal compared the cauldron atmosphere in the Jakarta badminton arena to a game of football after her second-round win at the Asian Games on Saturday.

AFP

Updated:August 25, 2018, 3:39 PM IST
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Asian Games: Nehwal Subdues 'Football Like' Home Crowd in Badminton Win
Saina Nehwal. (AP/ PTI Image)
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Jakarta: India's Saina Nehwal compared the cauldron atmosphere in the Jakarta badminton arena to a game of football after her second-round win at the Asian Games on Saturday.

Nehwal got past Indonesian teenager Fitriani 21-6, 21-14 in just 31 minutes to sail into the women's singles quarter-finals.

But the 28-year-old Nehwal, who won her second Commonwealth gold in April, said playing against the backdrop of an intimidating crowd is always tricky.

"Easy win but a tough match. She has been playing well. She is not an easy opponent to play against. The crowd was with her," Nehwal told reporters.

"It's crazy. It's how football or cricket matches are. You have to play against so many of them. Sometimes it plays in your head," said Nehwal.

The 19-year-old Fitriani tried to come back in the second game by forcing Nehwal into errors, but the Indian veteran kept her calm.

"When you keep losing points then crowd support really helps. In the second game she started well and went up to 8-4 but I am happy I could come back," said Nehwal.

"Sometimes when there are long rallies and conditions are difficult you might have some shots that you hit into the net or miss out on. You have to control your game, be calm and relaxed."

Nehwal's team-mate PV Sindhu has eclipsed Nehwal as India's biggest badminton star after winning silver at the 2016 Olympics.

But former world number one Nehwal, who has won over 23 international titles, said tournaments like the Asian Games and Olympics are always unpredictable.

China's world number two Shi Yuqi and India's Kidambi Srikanth both crashed out on a day of men's upsets on Friday.

"Playing (in these big tournaments) is not easy because there's a lot of expectation, especially from yourself. Whoever comes out with that pressure is champion," Saina said.

She added: "Every big tournament like the Commonweath Games, Asian Games, Olympics is tough because it's not about whom you are playing, but the battle with yourself is the toughest.

"It (only) comes (every) four years so it's not easy to take that away from your mind. You try and be relaxed and calm but somewhere deep inside that plays a role."
| Edited by: Arjit Dabas
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