Anup makes winning start, Saina storms into pre-quarters

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Beijing, Aug 10 (UNI) Anup Sridhar opened his campaign with an easy victory over Portugal's Marco Vasconcelos, while his compatriot and World number 16, Saina Nehwal continued with her wining ways as she overwhelmed Larysa Gryga (Ukraine) to storm into the pre-quarterfinals of the Women's section of the Olympic Badminton competition at the Olympic Games here today.

The 25-year-old national champion, Sridhar, took little time to settle down before he sent Marco packing out of the competition 21-16, 21-14 in 30 minutes.

Earlier in the morning, Saina took time to gauge her opponent.

She was playing the Ukrainian for the first time before overpowering her 21-18, 21-10 in just 28 minutes.

Sridhar started ominously as he put his first serve into the net and trailed 1-4 at one stage but he made it 8-6 and 11-7 before Marco rallied to close the gap 10-11, but after that Indian claimed eight points, while conceding three to go up 19-13 and took the game 21-16.

It looked as if the Indian was just trying to tire out his opponent without wasting his own energy. He made Marco play all over the court and in the process conceded many points which made the game look like a close fought one but actually it was not so.

Sridhar dominated the court as he dictated the procedings through out and in the second game he snuffed Marco's challenge with some clever placings and smart returns.

''I was pissed with myself,'' he said when a reporter asked him how he felt putting his first serve into the net. ''It has ever happened, It happened for the first time.'' To a query that why he did not smash much, Sridhar replied, ''The court is slow because of the condition. To hit a smash you have to be bang on the right place, otherwise your effort can go waste. I did not want to take chance.'' He said he had a stiff ankle, ''It was not troubling me but I did not want to take a chance and because it was my first match, I took time to settle down.'' He also admitted that he was conserving his energy for tomorrow's tie against Shoji Sato of Japan. ''I have played against him, We both know each other's game.'' In the women's section, Saina had yesterday trounced her Russian opponent and this afternoon she accounted for another former Soviet Republic's player after surviving some initial hiccups.

In the first game, Sania led her rival 9-2 and looked set for an easy win but Gryga staged a fine rally and gave a run for the money to the India, who, however, proved her superirity with powerful returns and smashes to clinch it.

The second game was totally dominated by the Indian, who did not give any quarter to her rival, and wrapped up the match rather easily.

Saina now faces the real challenge as she will most likely will face the fourth seed Chen Wang of Hong Kong, who plays her second round match later today.

''It's going to be tough against her, no question about that,'' Saina, bathed in sweat, said after second round match.

''I cannot predict the outcome but I can assure all that I would put my 100 per cent tomorrow,'' she said.

Though it is going to be very hard to beat Wang, Saina exuded confidence of being third time lucky against her illustrious peer.

''For me, now each and every match is like the final. I'm feeling so good. My movements were great and shots were excellent too. There was no particular area I felt uncomfortable about.

''The crowd is great, you hardly see so many people cheering badminton players and the atmosphere is electrifying. I would put my best foot forward tomorrow.'' she added.

About her match against Gryga, she said she had to wait for her moment before going for the kill.

''I had not played her earlier, so of course I could not go all out right from the word go. So I needed time to pick her,'' she said.

UNI HSB RAR PM1900

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