Spectacular display from India’s world no.2 Saina Nehwal earned her a semifinal berth at the Total BWF World Badminton Championship at Jakarta on Friday night. In a three-game thriller played with great intensity, Saina fought hard against China’s no.6 seed Wang Yihan. Both players brought off remarkable game skills in a 72-minute match that went to the wire. Saina had won the first game but the Chinese was equal to the task as she rallied brilliantly to take the second; and led most of the time in the third. In the end, however, Saina held her nerves admirably and walked off with a great morale-boosting victory. Earlier in the day, rest of the Indian challenge ended with PV Sindhu losing her quarterfinal match to Korea’s no.8 seed Sung Ji hyun and women’s doubles team of Jwala Gutta/Ashwini Ponnappa losing to the Japanese pair of Naoko Fukuman/Kurumi Yonao. In another remarkable performance on fifth day, Indonesia’s Lindaweni Fanetri came back from the brink to win against Taiwan’s no.4 seed Tai Tzu Ying.
The last women’s singles match on Friday between India’s Saina Nehwal and China’s Wang Yihan was an epical classic. As the match progressed, it became difficult to choose between the two equally matched contenders. After Saina won the first game 21-15, the second game began with an early lead for Yihan. However, both players showed tenacity in long rallies and it was impossible to tell, which way the game would go. Towards the end Saina made some avoidable errors and Yihan took the second game 21-19. The third game was full of thrills and amazing rallies. Yihan kept her lead intact from the start but as the game neared the climax, Saina drew level at 18-18. At this stage, the match could have gone either way but finally, the Indian showed her mettle and cruised to 21-15, 19-21, 21-19 victory to enter the semifinals. Before the start of the match, Saina had defeated the Chinese only once in their 10 previous meetings but the second victory brought her the bronze medal in the tournament.
Earlier in the day, the other Indian no.11 seeded PV Sindhu lost her quarterfinal battle against Taiwan’s no.8 seed Sung Ji Hyun in an 82-minute marathon. After the Korean won the first game 21-17, Sindhu came back strongly in the second to equal the game scores. Sindhu had her chances in the long rallies but Ji Hyun prevailed in the end to win at 21-17, 19-21, 21-16. Before Sindhu’s exit, India’s women’s doubles pair of Jwala Gutta/Ashwini Ponnappa lost their quarterfinal match against Japan’s Naoko Fukuman/Kurumi Yonao. Jwala/Ashwini fought hard in the first game before losing 23-25 but in the second game they couldn’t stand against the determined Japanese.
In Friday’s most amazing match, Indonesia’s Lindaweni Fanetri was down a game and 14-20 in the second game against her Taiwanese opponent and no.4 seed Tai Tzu Ying. However, despite holding six match points, the Taiwanese slipped unbelievably and lost the game. Riding on the encouraging support of the entire stadium, Fanetri showed great resilience afterwards and completely ruled the third game and finished with a 14-21 22-20 21-12 victory. In the semifinal tomorrow, Fanetri will take on India’s no.2 seed Saina Nehwal but she has already assured women’s singles bronze for Indonesia in over a decade. Further cheer for the locals was provided by their women’s doubles pair of Nitya Krishinda Maheswari/Greysia Polii, who defeated Malaysia’s Soong Fie Cho/Amelia Alicia Anscelly 21-11, 21-11.
In other matches, defending champion Carolina Marin defeated China’s no.7 seed Wang Shixian 21-17, 21-19; Denmark’s no.2 seed Jan O Jorgensen defeated five-time world champion China’s Lin Dan 21-12, 21-15 to keep himself on course for the title match showdown with China’s no.1 seed Chen Long, who was stretched to 30-29 in the second game by Jorgensen’s compatriot and no.7 seed Viktor Axelsen before Chen Long prevailed 21-18, 30-29 in 65 minutes and Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei set up the semifinal clash with Jorgensen with a 21-12. 21-18 victory over Hong Kong’s no.13 seed Hu Yun.
In mixed doubles, Indonesia’s Tontowi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir defeated Korea’s Ko Sung Hyun/Kim Ha Na 21-8 21-15 for a semifinal meeting with China’s defending champions Zhang Nan/Zhao Yunlei, who won against Indonesia’s Praveen Jordan/Debby Susanto, 21-13 21-14. The other mixed doubles semi-final will be an all-China affair as the no.2 seeds Xu Chen/Ma Jin beat Netherlands’ Jacco Arends/Selena Piek and will face compatriots Liu Cheng/Bao Yixin, who were lucky to get a walkover from England’s Chris Adcock/Gabrielle Adcock.