Ace Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal faces the prospect of an early exit from the BWF World Superseries Finals after going down to Olympic champion Li Xuerui of China in a Group B match in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday.
It was her second consecutive defeat in as many matches in the tournament
A bad season only got worse for the world No 6, who hasn't won a single title this year. She failed to recover from the opening match loss to Japan's Minatsu Mitani on Wednesday and was beaten 9-21, 14-21 by the world No 1.
The 23-year-old Indian had defeated the Chinese twice -- when she won the 2012 Indonesia Open and in the 2010 Singapore Super Series -- but those two victories meant nothing on Thursday as she went down in just 27 minutes to the defending champion.
In the first game, Li opened up a massive 8-1 lead, and even though the Indian did well to narrow the deficit to 8-10, the Chinese stamped her authority with eight straight points from 13-9.
Saina raised hopes of a fightback early in the second game, but Li broke away at 5-5 and did not allow the Indian to come close before sealing the issue easily.
It was Saina's sixth defeat to Li, the silver medallist at Guangzhou World Championships this year.
The Indian will play Yeon Ju Bae of Korea in her last group match on Friday.
Plagued by injuries and inconsistent form, Saina made early exits in tournaments throughout this year and was looking for a change in fortunes in the extremely competitive Super Series Finals, where the top eight shuttlers compete for the coveted title.
Image: Saina Nehwal
Photograph: Michael Regan/Getty Images