Shah Alam (Malaysia):
Ace Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal sealed a semifinal spot after a hard-fought victory but compatriot P V Sindhu crumbled under pressure to bow out of the women’s singles competition at the Malaysia Open Super Series Premier tournament.
World No. 8 Saina dug deep into her vast experience as she recovered from a game deficit to beat Thailand’s Porntip Buranaprasertsuk 19-21 21-14 21-14 in a 58-minute clash at the quarterfinals stage of the USD 550,000 event. Saina had beaten Porntip seven times in their last eight meetings.
The Olympic bronze medallist Indian will next meet Tai Tzu Ying tomorrow. Saina has a 5-8 record against the Chinese Taipei shuttler, who has beaten the Indian in their last five meetings, including in last month’s All England Championship.
The experience of beating the World No. 4 Ratchanok Intanon at the Korea Open last year, however, did not quite help Sindhu as she suffered her fourth defeat to the Thai girl in five meetings, going down 7-21 8-21 in 29 minutes.
With both the matches happening on adjacent courts, Saina and Sindhu both faced defeats in the opening game. Saina managed a comeback, but 20-year-old Sindhu was out of sorts as she was outplayed by her opponent.
Saina trailed 3-6 early on and even though she caught up after the break at 14-14, Porntip managed to get the better of the Indian in the opening game.
In the second game, Saina led 11-7 at the interval and then moved into a 20-13 lead, despite a fighting Porntip narrowing it down to 12-13 at one point. The Indian closed the game comfortably to bounce back into the contest.
In the decider, Saina continued her dominance and did not give any chance to Porntip as she led 5-1 initially and then sealed the issue to advance to her third successive semifinals this season.
Ratchanok played with soft hands, using her drops and deceptive returns to great affect, while Sindhu committed far too many unforced errors to pose any kind of challenge to her opponent.
In the opening game, Ratchanok moved to a huge 15-4 lead after the Indian failed to come up with a strategy that could threaten the Thai girl. Sindhu was so off-colour that even a mid court smash, which Ratchanok had no way to return, she ended up hitting long. Another net error from Sindhu and Ratchanok earned the bragging rights.
The change of sides did not change Sindhu’s fate as she continued to make unforced errors and Ratchanok once again went into the break 11-4.
Sindhu failed to decipher Ratchanok’s game and also faltered with her strokes as the Thai reached 15-5 once again. Finally, a net error gave Ratchanok 13 match points. Sindhu then dictated terms in a rally to save a match point but Ratchanok closed the issue in the next chance with a smash.
Ratchanok will now take on Chinese sixth seed Wang Yihan in the semifinals.