Saina Nehwal’s hopes of a successful comeback after an injury lay-off went up in smoke after the ace shuttler went down fighting to arch-rival Hongyan Pi of France in straight games in the first round of the Yonex All England Super Series in London on Wednesday.
World number 10 Saina played her heart out but could not get past Pi and lost 15-21 16-21 in the first round of the tournament.
Saina played better from the nets but was outdone by her rivals’ smashes in the 34-minute gruelling battle.
Saina had 18 net winner against Pi’s 17 but could fetch only seven smash points against PI’s powerful 12 points.
The eighteen year-old Hyderabadi had to skip last month’s national badminton championship owing to her shoulder injury and after a rigorous three-week healing process, returned to the court for the all-important tournament.
Among other Indians in fray, Chetan Anand will take on Englishman Andrew Smith, while Anand Pawar will meet Sony Dwi Kuncoro of Indonesia in the first round of the men’s single.