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Li Xuerui sends Saina packing from All-England

Source: PTI
March 09, 2012 21:07 IST
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India's leading shuttler Saina Nehwal crashed out of the All-England badminton championships, losing to China's Li Xuerui in the quarter-finals in Birmingham on Friday.

The world No 4 lost 13-21, 21-23 to the seventh seeded Chinese in 40 minutes.

Saina NehwalSaina couldn't match Li in the first game as she failed to retrieve quite a few shots in the forecourt and most of her smashes went into the net.

The Indian also failed to read the conditions and fell prey to the drift as she made quite a few judgment errors.

Li, on the other hand, played an aggressive game and her strokes were more accurate. The world No 5 Chinese opened up a 2-0 lead and went into the break 11-8.

After the breather, things didn't change much as Li reeled off seven straight points to create a huge gap which Saina failed to bridge.

After a pep-talk with India coach Pullela Gopichand during the break, Saina started the second game on a positive note and slowed down the game and engaged Li in long rallies to move to a 4-2 lead.

But the Indian lost a couple of points due to unforced errors and was also unlucky once to be at the receiving end of an umpiring decision as Li advanced from 6-6 to 9-9 before going into the break at 11-9 with the help of some good cross-court smashes and half smashes.

After the break, Saina won a long rally to level at 12-all. Both the shuttlers played an array of strokes but the Chinese was more accurate and deceptive as she moved ahead 16-13.

The sideway drift saw both the players succumbing to some unforced errors, but Li had her nose ahead at 19-17 and with Saina hitting out once again, the Chinese went up 20-17 for match-point.

Pushed to the wall, Saina not only saved three match-points but also grabbed the lead at 21-20. However, the Chinese wrested control and led 22-21 and won a long rally to eventually seal the match.

Saina had beaten Pi Hongyan of France 21-10, 21-17 on Friday to reach the quarter-finals.

She had reached the quarters in the last edition as well.

The 21-year-old from Hyderabad had reached the semi-finals of the All England in 2010, her dream year, when she won three Super Series titles -- Singapore, Indonesia and Hong Kong -- besides the Commonwealth Games gold medal.

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