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No luck for Saina Nehwal

A dramatic loss to arch-rival Juliane Schenk in the women’s singles semifinals saw defending champion Saina Nehwal failing to win her fourth Indonesia Open Super Series Premier crown on Saturday.

Saina Nehwal and Juliane Schenk
Saina Nehwal returns a shot during her semifinals against (inset) Juliane Schenk in Jakarta. Schenk won 12-21, 21-13, 21-14. PIC/AFP

Saina, who won the tournament in 2009, 2010 and 2012, was drubbed by the fourth seeded German 12-21, 21-13, 21-14 in 52 minutes at the Istora Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in their first meeting this year.

Juliane broke the second seed’s three-match winning run over her to reduce her head-to-head to 4-8. The first game started closely with both shuttlers keeping in close range of each other. But from 5-6 down, the 30-year-old German veteran used her court coverage skills to bag the next seven points to go 12-6 up.

However, in one of the most dramatic fightbacks, World No 2 Saina won 15 straight points to completely boggle her opponent and bag the game. The 23-year-old Saina was supreme at the net and used deceptive cross court smashes to her advantage.

Juliane was down on confidence and almost gave up the game by not going for the points, losing the game. The second game was the turning point of the match as Juliane vented out her frustration of losing the first game.

Leading 6-0, the German upped the ante to make it 13-6 and went on to win the game comfortably, pushing the contest into the decider for the first time since 2010.

The World No 3 German completely dominated the third game. With the crowd rooting for the Indian and chanting “Saina, Saina”, she closed the gap from 5-12 to 7-12 and then to 14-16 playing very cautiously.

But Juliane gobbled up the next five points to set up a place in the final where she will face China’s top seed Xuerui Li who defeated Pui Yin Yip of Hong Kong 17-21 21-11 21-11 in the other semifinals.

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