Saina Nehwal showed why she is counted as a threat by women shuttlers around the world. She wasn’t a favorite in the quarterfinal match against Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon, who was having a great 2016 season except at the BCA Indonesia Superseries last week, where she had lost in the first round. On Friday, however, Intanon couldn’t beat the Indian despite a huge first-game tussle. Saina went through to the semifinal as did Kidambi Srikanth in men’s draw. Srikanth did not encounter much resistance against Korea’s Kwang Hee Heo and won in two straight games. For the place in the final, Saina will need to beat China’s no.4 seed Wang Yihan, who extracted her revenge from Taiwan’s Tai Tzu Ying of her previous loss at the BCA Indonesia Open. As for Srikanth, he will have to beat Denmark’s Hans-Kristian Vittinghus for the final berth. Vittinghus came through by beating Japan’s Sho Sasaki in the other quarterfinal. Indonesia’s Anthony Ginting caused a huge upset on Friday by beating men’s singles top seed and China’s world no.1 Chen Long. In women’s draw, Saina Nehwal is the only non-Chinese player as the three Chinese women, Li Xuerui, Sun Yu and Wang Yihan are the other semifinalists.
Saina Nehwal has reached the semifinal of the 2016 Xiamenair Australian Super-series tournament by a valiant victory against Thailand’s world no.4 Ratchanok Intanon. The Thai player began well and led Saina 3-1 at the start of the first game but Saina leveled the scores to 3-3, when she rightly challenged the call after Intanon apparently played out. Both players had the aggressive stance and the first game had the lead changing constantly from one side to another. At the break Saina had a one-point lead at 11-10. Intanon drew level again at 12-12. At this score, Saina reeled off three points to jump to 15-12. However, the tenacious Thai woman made it 18-18 and went ahead by another point. Now it was an acid test for Saina. She had succumbed to such pressure at crucial times in the past but this time, she drew level at 19-19 and moved to the game point at 20-19. However, Intanon had not eased the pressure as she level again at 20-20. Now it was a cat-and-mouse game that went on until the scores reached 26-26. During this time, Saina frittered away six game points and Intanon also lost one opportunity. Then Saina earned her seventh game point and finished the ordeal at 28-26.
In the second game, Saina carried the momentum further to lead 4-1 but Intanon pulled back by winning 5 straight points and led 6-4. However, the Indian drew level at 7-7 and moved ahead of the Thai woman to lead 11-7 at the break. Then by reeling off 6 straight points, Saina stood at 17-8. But Intanon gave one last push and reduced the deficit to 4 points at 20-16. But that was as far as the Thai woman could go as Saina closed the match at 28-26, 21-16 in 56 minutes. The Indian has another big hurdle coming up, as she next plays Wang Yihan in the semifinal on Saturday. On her part, Yihan avenged her Indonesian Open loss against Taiwan’s Tai Tzu Ying by defeating her 21-19, 21-15 in 32 minutes. In two other women’s singles quarterfinal matches, Li Xuerui beat compatriot Wang Shixian 21-19, 21-17 and Sun Yu defeated Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi 21-18, 21-19.
In men’s singles quarterfinal, Kidambi Srikanth trailed in the beginning of the first game against Indonesia’s Kwang Hee Heo but caught up with the Indonesian at 14-14. Winning 8 points in a row, Srikanth won the first game 21-18. The Indian led on most occasions in the second game as well before finishing off victorious at 21-18, 21-17 in 36 minutes. Sriknanth’s semifinal opponent will be Denmark’s Hans-Kristian Vittinghus, who defeated Japan’s Sho Sasaki 21-14, 21-18 in 41 minutes. In a surprise loss for China’s Chen Long in the other quarterfinal, the world no.1 Chinese was done in 21-14, 21-17 by Indonesian teenager Anthony Ginting. The Indonesian will now play against Korea’s Jeon Hyeok Jin, who came through with a walk-over, when his Hong Kong opponent Hu Yun withdrew from the competition.
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