Saina and Jwala-Ashwini bloom for India as the men wilt

INDIA’S Saina Nehwal and Jwala Gutta-Ashwini Ponnappa are not just pretty faces on the badminton scene.

The trio have, in fact, done a lot to raise the profile of the women’s singles and doubles events in their country.

While their men have wilted one by one at the Wembley Arena, the women have done the country proud. Saina reached the women’s singles quarter-finals of the World Championships where she lost to China’s Wang Xin yesterday.

Jwala-Ashwini are in the women’s doubles semi-finals – a first for India – after they beat Indonesia’s Vita Marissa-Nadya Melati.

World No. 6 Saina can be proud of her achievement after making her third appearance in the last eight. The 21-year-old Saina said that her life had not been the same since becoming the first shuttler from India to win the 2008 World Junior Championships.

“I became a more confident player after that ... and my desire to win bigger tournaments grew.

“Now, I am happy to be placed in the same league as those who are capable of beating China’s players,” said Saina, who got involved in karate at the age of eight before turning to badminton 13 years ago.

She proved that her 2008 win was no fluke when she went on to win the Indonesian Open twice, Singapore and Hong Kong Opens once and the 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medal in India. But the most significant one was reaching the quarter-finals of the Beijing Olympic Games.

With such good results, Saina soon became hot property in India. But she has managed to keep everything in perspective.

“I’ve appeared on magazine covers and I endorse a lot of products. Fortunately, I have a manager to look into all my off-court activities. I try not to let the business side of things affect my badminton schedule,” she said.

Saina isn’t the only India player making waves.

The two-year partnership of 26-year-old Jwala and 22-year-old Ashwini is also making heads turn, especially after their gold medal-winning feat at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi last year.

The duo have shown marked improvement in their game – especially Ashwini’s attacking game.



Third round: Kevin Cordon (Gua) bt Pablo Abian (Spa) 21-19, 19-21, 21-17; Nguyen Tien Minh (Vie) bt Boonsak Ponsana (Tha) 21-11, 21-15.

Quarter-finals: Lee Chong Wei (Mas) bt Kevin Cordon (Gua) 21-7, 21-13; Lin Dan (Chn) bt Sho Sasaki 21-14, 21-16.


Third round: Mohd Ahsan-Bona Septano (Ina) bt Chai Biao-Guo Zhengdong (Chn) 22-20, 21-16; Hong Wei-hen Ye (Chn) bt Fang Chieh-min-Lee Sheng-mu (Tpe) 18-21, 21-17, 21-15.

Quarter-finals: Mohd Ahsan-Bona Septano (Ina) bt Mathias Boe-Carsten Mogensen (Den) 21-18, 18-21, 24-22; Ko Sung-hyun-Yoo Yeon-seong (Kor) bt Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong (Mas) 21-17, 21-14; Cai Yun-Fu Haifeng (Chn) bt Mads Conrad-Petersen-Jonas Rasmussen (Den) 21-10, 21-13; Jung Jae-sung-Lee Yong-dae (Kor) bt Hong Wei-Shen Ye (Chn) 21-12, 26-24.


Quarter-finals: Wang Xin (Chn) bt Saina Nehwal (Ind) 21-15, 21-10; Cheng Shao-chieh (Tpe) bt Wang Shixian (Chn) 21-16, 21-17. Juliane Schenk (Ger) bt Tine Baun (Den) 21-9, 21-11.


Quarter-finals: Tian Qing-Zhao Yunlei (Chn) bt Mizuki Fujii-Reika Kakiiwa (Jpn) 21-16, 21-10; Miyuki Maeda-Satoko Suetsuna (Jpn) bt Meiliana Jauhari-Greysia Polii (Ina) 21-15, 21-17; Jwala Gutta-Ashwini Ponnappa (Ind) bt Vita Marissa-Nadya Melati (Ina) 17-21, 21-10, 21-17.


Quarter-finals: Xu Chen-Ma Jin (Chn) bt Chayut Triyachart-Yao Lei (Sin) 21-16, 21-7; Tantowi Ahmad-Lilyana Natsir (Ina) bt Joachim Fischer Nielsen-Christinna Pedersen (Den) 21-12, 21-13

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