Olympics: With three Chinese in semis, it’s Saina versus China now; Indian ace meets World No 1 Yihan Wang next

Like a winner, Saina Nehwal is not just a picture of poise or confidence; she is always immaculately turned out too, as if she is already thinking of the post-victory shoot, writes The Times Of India.

“So, is it a coincidence that she has chosen colour purple for her most important, and probably, toughest mission? Or is it a clear sign from the Gods above, with the dominant hue at these Games being pink and its varying shades,” writes TOI, adding that with a pink band to hold her pony-tail and five other clips to keep her hair in place, including lighter purple ones to complete the matching, you can see a simple harmony in her hunger to win and desire to look like a champ.

“Add the two holy threads around her neck, barely hiding a gold chain, and a big white watch on her wrist, and you'd imagine that she is ready for any contingency. Till now, though, she hasn't run into any such eventuality; she has won all her four matches, including the two in the Group stage, in straight sets. The only time she seemed to be in any trouble was in Thursday's quarterfinal clash against fifth seeded Tine Baun,” adds the article.

Meanwhile a Hindustan Times writes that thirty nine minutes are a blip in the history of a nation and 39 minutes are all it took Saina Nehwal to create her own bit of history.

“The woman with the pink shoelaces and matching hair clips is the first Indian to manage an Olympics badminton semi-final. Now, she has two matches to go. She wins either, we have a medal. First up in the semifinals is the world No. 1 Chinese Yihan Wang who has got the better of her in their five last encounters. Nehwal has yet to figure how to unravel that particular riddle. Even if she loses she plays for the bronze,” says the report, adding that but then this is a different Nehwal from the one that turned out at Beijing, far different. “She walked out on court like she owned it, like she belonged.”

According to a report in The Indian Express Saina Nehwal on Thursday created history as she became the first Indian shuttler to reach the semifinals of the Olympics after notching up a hard-fought straight-game victory over Tine Baun of Denmark in the women's singles quarterfinals at the London Games.

Fourth seeded Saina edged past fifth seed Tine 21-15 22-20 in a 39-minute match at the Wembley Areana to set up a clash with the current world No 1 and World champion Yihan Wang of China in the semifinals, whom she hasn't beaten once in her last five encounters.

With this win, Saina bettered her quarterfinal finish at the Beijing Games four years ago and also excorcised the demons of that painful defeat to Maria Kristin Yulianti of Indonesia.