It was a contrasting day for India’s two top badminton players as top seed Saina Nehwal advanced to the women’s singles quarter-finals, while P.V. Sindhu suffered a second round loss at the prestigious $700,000 China Open Superseries Premier on Thursday.
Defending champion Saina was given a tough fight by Malaysian Tee Jing Yi but the World No.2 came out on top 21-10, 19-21, 21-19 in 55 minutes at the Haixia Olympic Sports Center.
This was Saina’s third career win over Tee in as many matches and she will next take on Japanese Nozomi Okuhara against whom the Indian also has a 3-0 win-loss record.
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After comprehensively clinching the first game without conceding the lead even once, Saina was given a tough fight by her unseeded opponent. Though the 25-year-old Indian led for most of the match, she was upset towards the end of the game. Tee won three of the four points played from 18-all to bag the game and push the match into the decider.
The third game was another tight contest with the No.34 Malaysian taking a 6-2 lead at the start. Saina closed the gap and kept it neck-and-neck till 17-all, when she found that extra bit of steam she needed to kitty the next three points and reach matchpoint.
Tee saved two matchpoints but Saina sealed the deal on her third attempt.
Just a few minutes later, Sindhu had to bite the dust on the adjacent court, losing a marathon one hour and 28 minute battle to Chinese fifth seed Shixian Wang 21-18, 18-21, 16-21.
After sharing the first two games with the same scoreline, it all boiled down to the deciding game, which was an extremely close contest.
It was all even till 13-all when the experienced Chinese, a former No.1, kept her nerves to race away to matchpoint. World No.6 Shixian moved well at the net and in the end it were her smashes which won her the game and the contest.