By Ian Ransom

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Saina Nehwal, India's top medal hope in the Olympic badminton, limped out of the singles tournament on Sunday after an injury-hampered loss to unseeded Ukrainian Maria Ulitina.

Nehwal, who took bronze in London to become her country's first medalist in the sport, slumped to a 21-18 21-19 defeat by world number 61 Ulitina, clearly favoring her problem right knee which was heavily strapped.

"I got the injury before the Olympics almost one-and-a-half, two weeks back, so I was not fully prepared," the three-time Olympian and fifth seed told reporters at the Riocentro.

"Obviously I feel bad but the pain is there so there is nothing I can do about it."

The win for Ulitina put her into the last 16 of her first Olympic tournament.

"It is an incredible result for me and I'm just so happy," she said.

"Everybody knows that Saina was more like a leader in the match and for her maybe it was a little bit difficult, but my attack was really the best today and I could survive the defense so everything just went perfect."

(Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)