Title-favourite Saina Nehwal overcame a wobble in the second game before outclassing her Korean rival Kim Moon Hi in straight games to enter the women's singles final of the USD 10,000 Indian International Badminton tournament on Thursday.
The Hyderabad girl, who last week finished runner up in the world juniors, won the 27-minute battle 21-15, 21-18 to earn a match-up in Saturday's title-clash with another Korean competitor, second seed Jang Soo Young, who ousted her compatriot Jung Kyung Eun 21-18, 21-16 in the other semi final at the Goregaon Sports Club in Mumbai.
Seventh seed Nikhil Kanetkar struggled his way past his Korean rival Jung Hoon Min, ranked much below him in the world, 21-19, 15-21, 21-14 to enter the men's singles final where he will meet another Korean Lee Cheol Ho on Saturday for the top prize of USD 800.
The hard-earned 49-minute victory for Kanetkar, ranked 86 in the world as compared to his rival's 170th, came after his compatriot and giant-slayer Anand Pawar was beaten 21-19, 21-18 by Ho in 38 minutes.
Pawar shocked top seeded compatriot Chetan Anand 21-16, 21-19 in 45 minutes in the quarter finals earlier in the day which seemed to have drained him a bit in the semi final clash while left-handed Kanetkar overcame Korea's Hun Dong Kim in straight games at the same stage after an intense battle.
In the women's semi final clash Saina, ranked 32nd in the world, looked in splendid touch in the opening game which she wrapped up in only eleven minutes with a fine mix of drops from mid-court, half smashes and deep tosses.
Saina raced away from 8-7 to a comfortable 14-7 advantage and with the Korean girl, who is ranked 113rd, making errors at the net and in going for the lines, easily clinched the game.
But in the second the Korean, who had ousted fourth seeded Indian Aditi Mutatkar in the quarter finals earlier in the day, decided to engage the Indian youngster in battles at the net and Saina seemed to falter a bit as she fell behind 9-13.
This was the time the Indian hope, who easily got past the challenge of compatriot Ruth Misha in straight games in the quarters, made a determined effort to tighten up her net play and it paid her rich dividends as she won the net battles to catch up her rival at 13.
Saina did not look behind after this fine recovery act, essaying some fine drops to bewitch her rival who also became error-prone as she was in the opening game, a clear sign of nerves.
An error in judging Saina's serve and a backhand mistake put Saina at match point (20-17). A netted backhand by Saina made it 20-18 but the Indian was not to be denied her deserved place in the title-contest as she came up with another fine net-drop to clinch her berth in the final.
Saina said after the match that she was now feeling effect of her exertions in the world juniors in Korea.