Shixian Wang proved too strong for world no.1 Saina Nehwal in their quarterfinal match. In two easy games lasting about 40 minutes, Wang’s fluidity on the court prevented Saina from finding her bearings as the Indian’s dream of defending her title lay in shatters. In another major upset on a fateful Friday, women’s top seed Li Xuerui of China was also bounced off by Korean no.7 seed Sung Ji Hyun, who reached her first ever World Superseries semi-final. Compared to the Wang-Saina encounter, the match between Sung Ji Hyun and Xuerui was stretched to three games before the Korean prevailed over the powerful Chinese. In another reverse for China, the mixed doubles top seeds Xu Chen/Ma Jin were done in by Korea’s Ko Sung Hyun/Kim Ha Na in an edge-of-the-seat thriller. But the Chinese won the other mixed doubles match against Korea, when Liu Cheng/Bao Yixin prevailed over Choi Solgyu/Eom Hye. It was a great day for Denmark in men’s singles as giant killer Viktor Axelsen finished the challenge of Thailand’s Boonsak Ponsana and Axelsen’s compatriot Jan O Jorgensen accounted for China’s Wang Zhengming in three games.
It is all over for India’s Saina Nehwal as she was comprehensively beaten by China’s former world no.1 Wang Shixian in the quarterfinal. It didn’t appear so as the first game got underway. The Indian had a chance at 14-all in the first game but Saina could not carry on the momentum against Wang as the Chinese began reeling off points in a bunch. Saina won just one more point as Wang took the first game 21-15. In the second game too, Saina had a chance at 9-8, when a long rally ensued. Saina chased shuttles on both flanks to keep the rally going. There were 30 exchanges in all it was here that the Indian could have turned the game around. But that one point that Saina lost, took the match away from her. Her challenge faded away after that as Wang scored five straight points in a row. There was no looking back for the Chinese as Saina’s unforced error-count swelled alarmingly. In the end, Wang took the match 21-15, 21-13. With that match the players have squared their head-to-head count to 6 matches apiece in a dozen encounters. In the semi-final on Saturday, Wang will take on world no.12 South Korea’s Bae Yeon Ju, who beat the tenacious Canadian Michell Li 21-8, 17-21, 21-10.
After no.2 seed Saina Nehwal crashed out, it was the turn of the top seeded Chinese Li Xuerui to make her exit from the Star Australian Open. Li lost to Korea’s no.7 seed Sung Ji Hyun in three games. After Sung took the first game 21-17, Li came back strongly and dominated the second game with a 21-10 win. Just when it looked that the top seed would continue in the same vein, the Korean collected herself and prevailed in the decider to win at 21-17, 10-21, 21-17. For a place in the final, Sung will play world champion Carolina Marin, who outplayed another Chinese, Wang Yihan, 21-7 21-18.
China suffered another upset, when their mixed doubles top-seeded pair of Xu Chen/Ma Jin were bounced out by Korea’s Ko Sung Hyun/Kim Ha Na in a thrilling encounter that lasted for 81 minutes. The three-game match finally went in the Koreans favor at 27-25, 19-21, 21-16. However, the Chinese took the other mixed doubles match from Korea, when Liu Cheng/Bao Yixin defeated Choi Solgyu/Eom Hye 21-15 21-13. Denmark enjoyed a great Friday as Viktor Axelsen and Jan O Jorgensen both reached the semifinals and will face each other for a place in the final. While Axelsen beat Thai veteran Boonsak Ponsana21-19, 21-15, Jorgensen prevailed over China’s Wang Zhengming 21-18, 16-21, 21-8.
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