Asia Badminton Championship: Saina Nehwal seals semifinal spot

Wuhan (China): Olympic bronze medallist Saina Nehwal continued her consistent run in international circuit, reaching yet another semifinal at the USD 200,000 Asia Badminton Championship here today.

In a battle of long rallies, the 26-year-old Indian held her nerves in tricky situations to eke out a 21-16 21-19 win over former World Champion Shixian Wang of China in the women's singles quarterfinal that lasted 56 minutes.

Saina Nehwal
Saina Nehwal

The World No. 8 Indian, who had registered semifinal finishes in the Swiss Grand Prix Gold, India Super Series and Malaysia Super Series Premier Open before skipping the Singapore Open, will take on the winner of the match between Japan's Nozomi Okuhara and China's Yihan Wang.

Saina, who had lost the last two meetings with Wang, tried to be patient during the energy-sapping rallies but many times she failed to control the shuttle and lost point by hitting wide and long.

In the opening game, Saina lead 3-0 and held a narrow 11-10 advantage at the break but pocketed four straight points to reach 15-10. After a battle for supremacy, Wang narrowed it down to 16-17.

Saina soon grabbed the opening game after gaining a healthy four-point game point advantage and sealed it when Wang misjudged a shuttle and left that at the baseline.

In the second game, Saina once again created a 3-0 lead before Wang snapped it with a smash. Saina produced a cross court smash but hit long next. The Indian committed a series of unforced errors to allow Wang narrow the lead to 5-6.

After a fight, Wang clawed back after catching Saina at the forehand corner near the net and then Saina left one at the back to allow Wang lead 10-9. Saina pushed another one out as Wang lead 11-9 at the break.

The battle continued after the interval and at 11-15, Saina gained three points to make it 14-15. A good net exchange saw Saina draw parity to 16-16. They moved neck and neck till 19-19.

A net error by the Chinese then gave Saina the lead and with Wang hitting another return at the nets meant the Indian was celebrating.

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