New Delhi: Saina Nehwal stormed into the women’s singles semi-finals at the India Open Superseries badminton tournament yesterday — just one win away from becoming the first Indian woman to achieve the world number one ranking.
Saina Nehwal returns to Indonesia’s Hana Ramadhini in New Delhi yesterday. Pic/AFP
Saina, currently ranked number two in the world, defeated unseeded Indonesian Hana Ramadhini, who looked impressive but lost to the Olympic bronze medallist 21-15, 21-12 in a 40-minute contest.
Japanese Yui Hashimoto will face Nehwal in the semi-finals today. However, India’s shuttling superstar is not thinking of the top spot as yet. “It is not about the No 1 or No 2 spot right now,” Saina said when asked if she sees becoming World No 1 a possibility. “I am concentrating on one match at a time and on winning them.”
Saina led 10-6 early on, but Hana blasted off four straight points to catch up with the Indian. However, Saina slowly increased the gap with her rival to eventually win the first game.
Reigning World champion Carolina Marin overcame Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara 21-15, 17-21, 21-15 in an hour and 14 minutes.
In the men’s singles, World No 4 Srikanth staved off a strong challenge from Japanese Takuma Ueda, who lost 15-21, 25-23, 18-21 in a marathon encounter that lasted for an hour and 18 minutes. In the semi-final, Srikanth will meet China’s Xue Song.
However, giant-killer HS Prannoy and RMV Gurusaidutt failed to capitalise on early advantages and went down fighting in the quarter-finals.
Prannoy, who grabbed the attention on Thursday by ousting top seed Jan O Jorgensen, found another Dane tricky to handle. World No 6 Viktor Axelsen beat Prannoy 16-21, 21-9, 21-18 in 58 minutes.
Commonwealth Games bronze medallist, Guru despite playing a compact game initially, he too ran out of ideas in the end to go down 21-15, 18-21, 13-21 to China’s Xue Song.
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