On day 3 of BWF World Super Series Finals in Dubai, Indian badminton stars Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth did India proud as both of them reached the last four of the coveted event. While Saina topped the Group A in women’s singles by winning all her matches, Srikanth also made to the semifinal despite losing his last match to Denmark’s Jan O Jorgensen in a tough encounter in men’s singles Group B. The Indian was only required to take a game away from the Dane and he did it by taking the first game itself.
In the semifinals on Saturday, both Saina and Srikanth will meet tough challenges. While Saina takes on Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei, Srikanth has a hard challenge against top seed Chen Long of China. The other men’s singles semifinal will be an all-Dane affair as Jan O Jorgensen is pitted against compatriot Hans Kristian Vittinghus. In women’s singles, the other semifinal will feature Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi against Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun. The semifinal line-ups are decided in other categories as well. In the first mixed doubles semifinal, England’s husband-wife pair Chris/Gabrielle Adcock will meet the Chinese pair Zhang Nan/Zhao Yunlei; while the other will have the Danish pair Joachim Fischer Nielsen/Christinna Pedersen taking on China’s Liu Cheng/Bao Yixin. In men’s doubles, top seeds Lee Yong Dae/Yoo Yeon Seong will meet Denmark’s Mathias Boe/Carsten Mogensen while China’s Chai Biao/Hong Wei play with the Japanese pair Hiroyuki Endo/Kenichi Hayakawa. In the women’s doubles first semifinal, China’s Tian Qing/Zhao Yunlei will be challenged by Korea’s Jung Kyung Eun/Kim Ha Na while Japanese top seeds Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi will play China’s Luo Ying/Luo Yu.
In her last Group A match in women’s singles, World No.4 Saina fought a battle of attrition against Korea’s Bae Yeon Ju. The match turned out to be a three-game thriller of the most pulsating kind, before Saina finally defeated the Korean 15-21, 21-7, 21-17. In the first game, Saina looked like winding up things as she led 10-4 against the Korean. But the eighth-ranked Bae, clawed back to level 14-14 and then won a series of points to take the game 21-15. Saina bounced back in the next game and kept the Korean woman guessing from a lead of 6-2 at early stages. But Bae produced some wonderful shots to level 6-6. Saina changed tactics and led 11-6 mid-way through the game and afterwards, reeled out 15 points out of 16 to leave the Korean stranded. In the third and deciding game, Bae began with a lead of 5-1 but Saina came back into the game by using her power smashes to good effect. Both players did their best and at mid-way mark Bae led Saina 11-10. Afterwards, Saina went to a 15-13 lead and taking two more points took the lead to 17-13. The Korean didn’t stop and made the score 16-19. In a do-or-die bid, Saina, brought off two powerful smashes to close the match.
In the afternoon session, India’s K Srikanth fought hard against Denmark’s third-ranked star Jan O Jorgensen. Srikanth just needed to win a game against Jorgensen and that he did by taking the first game 21-17. But Jorgensen played better in the next two games to finally win at 21-17, 12-21, 14-21. While Jorgensen finished on top of Group B, Srikanth was second and he reached the knock-out stage. The other two places were taken by Group A topper Chen Long of China and second placed Hans Kristian Vittinghus of Denmark.
In mixed doubles, England’s Chris/Gabrielle Adcock defeated Germany’s Michael Fuchs/Birgit Michels 21-16, 21-17 and China’s Zhang Nan/Zhao Yunlei beat Korea’s Ko Sung Hyun/Kim Ha Na 21-12, 21-18. Both pairs reached the semifinals of mixed doubles categories and they are joined by the other two pairs; Joachim Fischer Nielsen/Christinna Pedersen of Denmark and Liu Cheng/Bao Yixin of China. Playing their last robin-round matches, the Danish pair, however lost to Korea’s Jung Kyung/ Kim Ha Na 5-21, 18-21. But their earlier victories sealed the semifinal place for them. In mens’ doubles, Japan’s Hiroyuki Endo/Kenichi Hayakawa made it to last four by beating Chinese Taipei’s Lee Sheng Mu/Tsai Chia Hsin 21-8 21-14. In Group B, China’s Chai Biao/Hong Wei won a place in semifinal after defeating Korean World champions Ko Sung Hyun/Shin Baek Choel 15-21 21-15 21-17. In women’s doubles, World champions Tian Qing/Zhao Yunlei stormed into semifinals with a 21-14 21-11 win over Japan’s Miyuki Maeda/Reika Kakiiwa.