Every sportsperson, at some point in their career, eventually finds that opponent who goes on to establish themselves as their nemesis. No matter how hard they try, their nemesis always finds a way to upstage them. In the world of badminton, Saina Nehwal has found that nemesis in Tai Tzu-Ying.
The Taiwanese shuttler had won 14 out of the 19 head-to-head clashes against Nehwal. Thus, when the Indian shuttler geared up to take on the world no. 1 in the quarterfinals of the All England Championships on 8th March, Nehwal knew she had to be at her prolific best to come out on top.
But, sadly, Nehwal was outplayed by the defending champion in the opening exchanges of the match. Starting the match on a high-tempo, Tai Tzu didn't allow the Indian shuttler to get into the game and some weak shots further added to Nehwal's misery. She was trailing 3-11 during the break in the first game when her husband Parupalli Kashyap gave the Indian shuttler an earful.
"If you want to win the match, understand that you have to be disciplined. You're playing some stupid shots," Kashyap was quoted as saying, to Nehwal during the break, by India Today. Paying heed to her husband, Nehwal fought back hard and reduced the massive gap to 12-14 in the first game.
However, as Nehwal pressed on the gas, her opponent, too, upped the ante before running away with the first game 21-15. Following an early setback, Kashyap once again advised Nehwal to be more disciplined. "Control karke maar, last me maar rahi thi. Drop ko baar baar lift karke court open chod rahi thi (Control the shuttle and go for the shots, like you did in the end. You were lifting the drop shots again and again and leaving your court open)," Kashyap said.
"She (Tai Tzu) wants to keep the points short, you can't play into her hands. Be disciplined, she will play strokes and open the court for you and then you can go for your shots. You have to play her that way otherwise it's difficult," he added while directing his wife.
But, Kashyap's advice was just not good enough to beat Tai Tzu who eventually sealed the 37-minute clash with a convincing scoreline of 15-21, 19-21. It was Nehwal's 13th straight defeat against the Taiwanese who has not lost against the Indian shuttler since 2015.