Rio de Janeiro, Aug 14: India's premier shuttler Sai Nehwal suffered a shock exit, while P.V. Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth won their group rounds to progress to the quarter-fils of the Rio Olympics here on Sunday.
Sai's defeat was a huge upset against World No. 61 Marija Uliti of Ukraine in her second match of Group G as she was elimited, losing 18-21, 19-21 at the Rio Centro.
In the men's category, Srikanth outplayed Henri Hurskainen of Sweden 21-6, 21-18 in his group H prelimiries encounter. The only Indian to qualify in the men's singles event had previously beaten Lino Munoz of Mexico 2-0 in his campaign opener.
World No.10 Sindhu, two-time World Championship bronze medallist, held off a strong challenge from Cadian Michelle Li. The world No.20 won the first game 21-19 but Sindhu fought back to take the next two games 21-15, 21-17.
Uliti, 24, effected a shock win against the World No.5 and 2012 London Games bronze medallist Sai.
The 26-year-old Indian, a top medal contender, failed to find her rhythm and looked slow as she was not moving well within the court. Sai also conceded a lot of points on misjudgement and was not able to retrieve once the shuttle moved behind her.
Sai started the first game in a domiting way building a 7-1 lead but the 24-year-old Ukrainian soon pulled up her socks levelling the game at 8-8. Sai just edged past the mid-game interval with a two-point lead. After the interval there was a neck-to-neck fight for every point, levelling the score at 17-17 before the World No.61 took three point of trot.
Sai tried to fight back but Uliti sealed the game 21-18 in 19 minutes at Pavilion Four of Riocentro.
In the second game, the Indian star shuttler barely maged a slender one-point lead at the mid-game interval.
The second game saw many tough shots and some thunderous body and diagol smashes by Uliti.
After the interval, things were equal at 15-15, 18-18 and 19-19 before the Ukrainian clinched two points and the match, ending the Indian's hopes.
Srikanth's performance was diametrically opposite to Sai's. In a lop-sided first game, the Guntur-born player got off to a brilliant start as he raced away with a 11-2 lead with some solid net play and cross-court smashes before wrapping up the first game in his favour.
The second game was an example of Srikanth's tecity and patience. By virtue of his exceptiol defensive skills, the Sweden player maged to stay in touch with the Indian.
After few exchanges till the mid-half of the second game, the Indian shuttler showed some good skills with the combition of his diagol shot and down the line smashes to take a 18-15 lead.
In the last few points, there was stiff competition but Srikanth overpowered his opponent to clinch the issue comfortably.
Sindhu, meanwhile, was challenged to the core by Michelle, who pipped the Indian in the end to bag the first game 21-19.
But Sindhu showed tremendous fighting spirit as she equalised 1-1 with a 21-15 win in the second game. Known for being good in long rallies, Sindhu mixed caution with aggression to clinch the third game 21-18 and reach the pre-quarterfils. IANS