Second seed Saina Nehwal overcame sixth seed Wang Shixian of China 23-21, 19-21, 21-16 in 74 minutes to cruise into the women’s singles semifinals in the All England Super Series badminton championship in London on Friday. Saina is entering the semifinals of this premier tournament for the second time. The last time she had been in the last four was three years ago, when she lost to Tine Baun of Denmark.
However, Parupalli Kashyap’s gallant run ended in the quarterfinals, when he lost to second seed Chen Long of China 16-21, 10-21.
With a 5-2 record against Shixian, Saina had to play her best to beat the Chinese. Incidentally, with Shixian’s exit, the Chinese challenge ended in the women’s singles. Earlier, the top two seeds Li Xuerui and Wang Yihan had lost in the first round. Despite Shixian’s delaying tactics, Saina kept her cool and won important points at crucial stages of the game.
Saina took a 5-2 lead in the first game. But Shixian fought back to level at seven all. There were long rallies with Shixian excelling with her backhand shots. Saina collected her points with calculated shots, including body smashes. It was close till 12-all and the Chinese took the lead before Saina rallied to level it at 16-all. It went 19-19 and Shixian had one game point at 20-19. But Saina saved a game point and clinched the first game with a body smash, followed by a delectable drop shot.
A rattled Shixian played aggressively. She galloped to a 7-2 lead before Saina fought back. Shixian took a 11-8 lead but Saina won five successive points to take a three pointb lead at 17-14. The Chinese clawed back to make it 19-19. When it looked like Saina will wrap up the game and match, Shixian’s delaying tactics upset the Indian and helped her seal the second game in 24 minutes.
The third game witnessed brilliant rallies. After trailing initially, Saina gained ascendancy by winning eight successive points. Shixian staged a fightback but Saina continued to play well to end the Chinese’s hopes.
RESULTS: Men’s singles: Chen Long (CHNx2) bt Parupalli Kashyap (IND) 21-16, 21-10.
Women’s singles: Saina Nehwal (INDx2) bt Wang Shixian (CHNx6) 23-21, 19-21, 21-16.
Women’s doubles: Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang (CHNx1) bt Jung Kyung Eun and Kim Ha Na (KORx7) 21-18, 21-14.
Mixed doubles: Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei (CHNx5) bt Fran Kurniawan and Shendy Irawati (INA) 21-15, 20-22, 21-16.