Rio de Janeiro: London Olympic bronze medallist Saina Nehwal said that unheralded Brazilian opponent Vicente Lohaynny “surprised her” as the first round at major events are always “tricky and difficult to play”.
“First round is always tricky and difficult to play. Definitely I was taken for a surprise. The crowd was cheering her a lot also so she had the (home) advantage. It was a confidence boost for her. It was not the best or worst match but I am happy with the way I played. The draw is very tough, I just want to take one match at a time,” Saina said after her 21-17 21-17 win in 39 minutes.
The world No 5 said that every match will be tough in an event of this magnitude but those who can move on quickly after commiting mistakes and clinch the close matches.
“It was a tough match. Every match will be tough in Olympics. At the highest level, you commit mistakes. But you must clinch those matches to give yourself a chance ahead. It’s good to see the sport picking up in Brazil. She played really well. She does well at the International level as well. She got all the support from the local audience.”
The World and All-England Championship silver medallist said that her coach Vimal Kumar told her to move well and concentrate on rallies.
“(My coach) told me to concentrate on court movement and concentrate on fine rallies. She (Vicente) was fast from one side. Overall she played well. She was picking up the shots very well,” the seasoned campaigner complimented her young rival.
Vicente was disappointed at losing the match but conceded that she was up against a far superior opponent.
“I am not feeling great as you can imagine. However, I was up against one of the best in the world and I did my best out there, so I am feeling proud at his time. I played my best, I don’t think I could have played better to be honest with you,” Vicente said.
“At the end of the day, she is the fifth best in the world, the best in India, and I am classified number 72 in the world, so you have to put things in perspective. Because I was up against such an experienced athlete, I think I have done myself proud.”
Asked about her feelings on being the first Brazilian to play an Olympic badminton match, she said:”It was a great experience and at the end of the day I have much less experience than Nehwal. It is my first Olympic Games, I am only 20 years old. I have got more in me.
She was touched by the vocal support that she received. It was incredible out there. I was actually surprised by it. I did not expect to have so much support. It made me play even better than I expected. They were sensational and they really lifted me up on the court. It was for them I gave this performance and it was an honour to do that.