I know I can be much better: Saina Nehwal rues semi-final loss to Li Xuerui at India Open 2016

New Delhi: Saina Nehwal regretted the last two points in the decider which cost her the semi-final match against Olympic champion Li Xuerui but the Indian ace said she is overall satisfied with the way she has played during the India Open after recovering from a nagging ankle injury.

The 26-year-old Indian suffered her 11th loss to former World No. 1 Li of China in 13 meetings, going down 20-22 21-17 19-21 in the women's singles semi-finals.

"I think the difference was just some points here and there but last two points she hit close to the line. That made the difference. She is playing quite close to the line that is why she is winning matches. I gave away silly errors. I left a line call. I played well. There was no problem with the way I played," she told reporters.

Saina Nehwal plays against Li Xuerui of China during the Yonex-Sunrise India Open 2016. PTI

Saina Nehwal plays against Li Xuerui of China during the Yonex-Sunrise India Open 2016. PTI

"I am very satisfied with my game. I played really well. I beat Hyun Sung Ji and Nitchaon Jindapol. I could see I was moving pretty well. Against Li last time it was a straight game at China Super Series. This time three games, I could have won the first game though.

"I am analysing better. But because of the injury, the match practice is less. You need to play with them more. When you come out of injury and play against such tough opponents, you feel everything is new. So that is what is happening. I played two tournaments and I was good but here I was better," Saina, who will next play in Malaysia and Singapore this month, said.

Leading 19-18 in the decider, Saina's return went long, which helped Li make it 19-19 and then the Chinese came with a line-kissing slice to grab one match point, which she sealed when Saina failed to negotiate the serve.

Asked about the match, Saina said: "I had big leads but she came back. She was picking up everything, she was maintaining good rallies and hit some good shots to the line.

"I can remember the last two points which were crucial in the last game. My service, which went to the net, and one lift that went behind and I made a line error. Those two were not required. She played those points with a lot of confidence.

"I should have won the first game at 20-19. Obviously such matches gives lot of confidence but also it can be irritating to miss out. I am good but I know I can be much better. I was not happy yesterday. I took three games yesterday. Today I could have won the first game."

Two-time silver medallist at World Championship, Li said there was not much difference between her and Saina.

"There is not much difference. I think it is just a few key points which made the difference. Today Saina was playing at home and that puts her under pressure but she also has the support of home crowd. I'm glad to get better off her today.

"It was a tough game. Saina played very well. I was making lot of mistakes and once I was able to overcome my mistakes, I was back in the match. Even when I was trailing, I was not looking at the score. The idea was to cut down on my errors and focus on one point at a time. I didn't lose sight.

"I did my best and tried to seal the moment. I am happy with the way I played today," she Li.

On her battling with injuries and form, Li said: "It's okay. Am getting better. I'm at the best in a long time. After recovering from injury, I can ran faster. I'll try my best at Rio Olympics. But first I have to seal a ticket from my country because in China the competition is fierce. My first aim will be to qualify for the Games and then defend it."

Li said the competition in women's singles has increased since she had won the Olympic gold medal at London in 2012.

"Before 2012 there was not much competition. There were only seven players who could have won it. In these four years, the competition in women's singles has increased a lot. One example is that all the quarter-final matches here went to three games."

On the last two close matches that she played here, Li said: "There is not much difference as I played three games yesterday also. But there are minor difference because I played against compatriot yesterday (Shixian Wang) and today it was against Saina."

Updated Date: Apr 03, 2016 19:31 PM

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