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India Super Series: Saina reaches semis after entertaining thriller, Sindhu sinks

Last updated on: April 01, 2016 21:40 IST

Saina Nehwal

IMAGE: India’s Saina Nehwal plays against Korea's Sung Ji Hyun during the Yonex-Sunrise India Open, in New Delhi, on Friday. Photograph: PTI Photos .

Defending champion Saina Nehwal upstaged Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun to reach the semi-finals but it was curtains for P V Sindhu in the women’s singles of the India Open Super Series, in New Delhi, on Friday.

Olympic bronze medallist Saina defeated Sung 19-21, 21-14, 21-19 in an energy-sapping women's last-eight match at the Siri Fort stadium.

There was hardly any winner in the gruelling three-game match as each rode on the other's unforced errors.

Saina, who has beaten Sung five times in the past used her drops early on to catch the Korean at the forecourt.

However, unforced errors and a few deceptive returns helped Sung to lead 8-4. The Indian showed her resilience to claw back at 10 before a shot from Sung left her stranded.

After the break, Saina turned the tables to lead 14-12 but soon Sung once again drew parity. The Indian once again nosed ahead to 17-15 but once again Sung fought back and grabbed a 18-17 lead after Saina made a wrong line call and then hit the net.

Another return going to net and then failure to retrieve a shot at the right side gave Sung a 20-17 lead. Saina saved two but left the next thinking it will drop inside the line.

In the second game, Saina lead 3-1 when Sung took a break to attend to her right ankle. When the match resumed, Saina continued her good run to lead 6-2.

Sung slowly levelled par at 6-6 when a low return from Saina went to the net. The Indian again surged ahead and entered the break at 11-7.

After the interval, Saina extended the lead to 13-8 and then zoomed to 19-10 with the Korean crumbling. Sung grabbed three points before another long shot gave Saina a 20-13 lead. The Korean saved one but Saina roared into contest when Sung failed at the net.

In the decider, Sung lead 5-2 early on but she failed to rein her unforced errors as Saina soon turned it around at 8-6. The Korean looked visibly tired as she didn't even try to retrieve some of the shots as Saina reached the break with a 11-7 advantage.

A change of side seemed to change the fortune of Sung, who reeled off six straight points to grab the lead 13-11. A net error broke the rhythm but Saina again hit wide as Sung lead 14-12.

Two wide shots from Sung brought Saina to an even-knell at 17-17 before he grabbed the lead when the Korean erred at the net.

A couple of long shots from Sung took Saina to a 20-19 lead. Sung saved one but Saina grabbed the net after another fierce rally and threw up her arms in ecstasy.

However, two-time bronze medallist at World Championship Sindhu squandered a one-game lead to go down 21-15, 15-21, 15-21 against another Korean Bae Yeon Ju in another quarter-finals.

This was Sindhu's third loss to the Korean.

Sindhu dished out a compact game as she lead 11-6 at the break and continued her good run after the break.

Eventually, Bae hit the net to give a 20-13 lead to Sindhu. After conceding two points, the Indian sealed it with a smash.

In the second game, Bae opened up an 11-8 lead at the interval and reeled off five straight points to reach 16-8. However, Sindhu slowly reduced the margin to 13-19 but another long shot gave Bae a 20-14 lead. The Indian saved one game point before she hit wide again to help the Korean make a comeback.

After lagging behind 3-5, Sindhu managed to grab the lead at 6-5 with a few stiff smashes and some superb returns. But Bae still managed to have her nose ahead at 11-7 at the interval.

At 7-13, Sindhu changed her racquet but it didn't change her fate much as even though she tried to narrow the gap to 13-16, the Indian made some errors at crucial juncture to fall behind.

Soon Bae was leading 20-14 when another Sindhu's smash ended up at the net. The Indian saved one but again hit wide to end her campaign.

Bae will now take on former All England champion Thailand's Ratchanok Intanon, who beat Chinese Taipei's Tai Tzu Ying, eight seeded, 12-21, 21-14, 22-20.

In men's singles, second seeded Japanese Kento Momota spanked Denmark's Hans-Kristian Vittinghus 21-8 21-9 to set up a semi-final clash with China's Xue Song who prevailed over a fighting Marc Zwiebler of Germany 16-21, 21-13, 21-14.

Korea's Son Wan Ho also notched up a 21-11, 13-21, 21-8 win over Indonesia's Tommy Sugiarto, seeded eighth, to set up a meeting with fifth seed Dane Viktor Axelsen, who thrashed Lee CHong Wei slayer Hong Kong's Wei Nan 21-17, 21-12 in another match.

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