New Delhi: Defending champion Saina Nehwal upstaged Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun to reach the semifinals but it was curtains for P V Sindhu in the women’s singles of the India Open Super Series on Friday.
Olympic bronze medallist Saina defeated World No. 8 Sung 19-21 21-14 21-19 in a women’s singles match that lasted for an hour and 23 minutes at the Siri Fort stadium. The Indian will next take on Olympic champion Chinese Li Xuerui, seeded third, who saw off compatriot Wang Shixian 22-20 12-21 21-17 in another quarterfinal match.
However, two-time bronze medallist at World Championship Sindhu squandered a one-game lead to go down 21-15 15-21 15-21 against another Korean Bae Yeon Ju in another quarterfinals here. This was Sindhu's third loss to the Korean.
In a game of energy-sapping rallies sprinkled with drops and half smashes, it was Saina who emerged victories after Sung committed a series of unforced errors after being tied 17-17 in the decider.
There was hardly any winners scored as Saina too made a lot of unforced errors and wrong line judgements to lose points galore. The Indian’s movements at the forecourt on the right side seemed affected by her nagging ankle injury as she failed to retrieve a lot of points in that area.
After the match, Saina said she didn't expect it to be such a tough match as she always had easy outings against Sung.
"She has played really well. I didn't expect her to do so many rallies actually. she was picking up my shots. The last moments were actually very tense. It has always been easy against her. It was never such a long match. Once I think in Denmark I guess we played close. This time it was totally different. But I guess there is lot of pressure also now on me. I am happy with the way I played," she told reporters.
"From quarters it will be tougher. She is in great shape. She won the New Zealand Open also. It was a tough match. I was not getting points on smashes, so it was either on rallies or drops, so I was sticking with it. She has got some very good drop and she is tall as well.
Saina, who has beaten Sung five times in the past six meetings, used her drops early on to catch the Korean at the forecourt. However, unforced errors and a few deceptive returns helped Sung to lead 8-4. The Indian showed her resilience to claw back at 10 before a shot from Sung left her stranded.
After the break, Saina turned the tables to lead 14-12 but soon Sung once again drew parity. The Indian managed to nose ahead to 17-15 but once again Sung fought back and grabbed a 18-17 lead after Saina made a wrong line call and then hit the net.
Another return from the Indian going to net and then her failure to retrieve a shot on her forehand gave Sung a 20-17 lead. Saina saved two but then made a wrong line call to gift the first game to her opponent.
In the second game, Saina led 3-1 when Sung took a medical time out to attend to her right ankle. When the match resumed, Saina continued her good run to lead 6-2. Sung drew level at 6-6 when a low return from Saina went to the net. However, the Indian again surged ahead and entered the break at 11-7.
After the interval, Saina extended the lead to 13-8 and then zoomed to 19-10 with the Korean crumbling. Sung grabbed three points before her another long shot gave Saina a 20-13 lead. The Korean saved one but Saina roared into contest when Sung erred at the net.
In the decider, Sung led 5-2 early on but failed to rein in her unforced errors as Saina soon turned it around at 8-6. The Korean seemed tired as she didn't even try to retrieve some of the shots as Saina reached the break with a 11-7 advantage.
However, after a change of side, Sung reeled off six straight points to grab the lead 13-11. A net error broke the rhythm but Saina again hit wide as Sung lead 14-12. Two wide shots from Sung brought Saina to an even-knell at 17-17.
She grabbed the lead when the Korean erred at the net. A couple of long shots again from Sung took Saina to a 20-19 lead. Sung saved one but Saina sealed it with a midcourt smash and threw up her arms in celebration.
In another women’s singles quarterfinal, Sindhu dished out a compact game as she lead 11-6 at the break and continued her good run after the break. Eventually, Bae hit the net to give a 20-13 lead to Sindhu. After conceding two points, the Indian sealed it with a smash.
In the second game, Bae opened up an 11-8 lead at the interval and reeled off five straight points to reach 16-8. However, Sindhu slowly reduced the margin to 13-19 but another long shot gave Bae a 20-14 lead. The Indian saved one game point before she hit wide again to help the Korean make a comeback.
After lagging behind 3-5, Sindhu managed to grab the lead at 6-5 with a few stiff smashes and some superb returns. But Bae still managed to have her nose ahead at 11-7 at the interval.
At 7-13, Sindhu changed her racquet but it didn't change her fate much as even though she tried to narrow the gap to 13-16, the Indian made some errors at crucial juncture to fall behind. Soon Bae was leading 20-14 when another Sindhu's smash ended up at the net. The Indian saved one but again hit wide to end her campaign here.
Bae will now take on former All England champion Thailand's Ratchanok Intanon, who beat Chinese Taipei's Tai Tzu Ying, eight seeded, 12-21 21-14 22-20.
In men's singles, second seeded Japanese Kento Momota spanked Denmark's Hans-Kristian Vittinghus 21-8 21-9 to set up a semifinal clash with China's Xue Song who prevailed over a fighting Marc Zwiebler of Germany 16-21 21-13 21-14.
Korea's Son Wan Ho also notched up a 21-11 13-21 21-8 win over Indonesia's Tommy Sugiarto, seeded eighth, to set up a meeting with fifth seed Dane Viktor Axelsen, who thrashed Lee CHong Wei slayer Hong Kong's Wei Nan 21-17 21-12 in another match.