By Vivek Prabhakar Singh Rio de Janerio, Aug 15 : Expressing disappointment over Saina Nehwal's defeat at the hands of world number 61 Maria Ulitina in Rio Olympics, Ashwini Ponnappa has said that it was unfortunate for the star Indian shuttler, especially when the entire nation was hoping for a medal from her.
In a major upset, Saina crashed out of the prestigious quadrennial event after suffering a straight game defeat against Ulitina in her second and final women's singles group stage contest yesterday.
"It is very unfortunate that she lost. She is suffering from a few injuries what I heard. It's difficult, especially when you have been preparing for so many years for the Olympics. Your aim and goal is to win a medal at the Olympics and you have the entire nation's hopes on you. I am sure it is tuff for her but I hope she recovers and gets well soon," Ponnappa said. Saina, the bronze medallist at the 2012 London Games, was beaten 18-21, 19-21 by unheralded Ukrainian opponent in a magnificent game of badminton at Riocentro-Pavilion 4.
After clinching the opening game, a determined Ulitina kept mounting pressure on Saina, who had been vociferously backed by the crowd, at all points.
Despite trailing 15-17 to Saina in the second game, the Ukrainian held her nerve and restored parity quickly before ensuring her place in the round of 16 with a superb cross court hit.
The experienced Indian pair of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa were eliminated from the Rio Olympics women's doubles event after losing their second successive group A clash on August 13.