Shocks were expected at this Barfoot & Thompson New Zealand Open given the quality and depth of the fields, and the biggest on a stunning day of badminton at Eventfinda Stadium was the departure of the women’s second seed and world number eight Saina Nehwal (India), beaten in three sets by complete unknown Zhiyi Wang (China).
It was a match that had the crowd fully engaged with strong support in one of the biggest day two crowds were ever seen at the tournament. World number 212 Wang took the first set with relative ease 21-16 and looked in control of the second at 19-15 before Nehwal showed her class to take it to a decider, 23-21.
It was then that she ran out of gas though, with Wang winning the third as she pleased 21-4 to move to a shock spot in the second round and immediately open up one side of the draw.
Speaking to The Indian Weekender, Saina Nehwal said it the exhaustion towards the third round that slowed her down giving her opponent the edge and encouragement to take a big lead.
Saina has just come from the Asian Badminton Open where she was knocked out in the quarter-final says she will pick up the momentum in this tournament as it is an important one leading to the Tokyo Olympics in the summer of 2020.
China's Zhiyi Wang (Credit Jonathon Stone-Badminton New Zealand)
“I had a great start this year with the Indonesian Badminton Championship, but due to a very jam-packed schedule of back to back tournaments, I have not been able to have proper rest to get back to the game.
“I had to skip the Swiss Open Badminton Championship earlier last month when I suffered from mild pancreatitis added further to my low performance,” the world number eight told The Indian Weekender.
“After this tournament, I will have two months gap in which I aim to practice more rigorously and prepare for the Olympics next year,” Saina added.
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