New Delhi: Against all popular expectation, India's star shuttler disappointed everyone after losing to Japan's Yui Hashimoto 21-13, 12-21, 20-22 to crash out of India Open here on Thursday at the Siri Fort Complex.
Saina started off well and without breaking a sweat raced to 11-4 lead and eventually clinched the first game 21-13. Her Japanese opponent made lot of unforced errors by playing out of the court which gave Saina the advantage of bagging lot of points in the first game.
But in the second, Hashimoto got a grip on her game and erred less to pose questions for Saina by playing some deceiving drop shots and long rallies. Later, she failed to catch on and Hashimoto just rallied ahead to win the second game 21-12.
The match was not expected to go down to the decider game but it did and Hashimoto claimed it at the end 22-20. However, it was a close fight between the two shuttlers with no one ready to give an inch. But the controversial moment came and that could be arguably attributed to Saina's loss. When she was on match point with scores at 20-17 and a bad line-call, which clearly looked the shuttle dropped outside cost her the tie.
After that a visibly tired Saina lost focus and that allowed Hashimoto to bounce back as she won five consecutive points to clinch the match in one hour two minutes.
Meanwhile, after Saina's loss there was good news from the men's singles as Anand Pawar stunned world No.5 Hu Yun 21-15, 15-21, 21-10 to enter the quarter-final. While Ajay Jayaram in a lopsided match beat Rumbaka Dionysius Hayom 21-15, 21-12. World No.1 Lee Chong Wei also progressed to the quarters after easing past Sakai Kazumasa 21-17, 21-9 and will meet HS Prannoy on Friday.