Saina Nehwal edged out Chinese Shixian Wang after a marathon match to enter the women’s singles semi-finals at the Indonesia Open Super Series Premier badminton event here yesterday. Compatriot Parupalli Kashyap also reached the last four of the men’s singles defeating higher-ranked Hans-Kristian Vittinghus.
Saina, who could have sealed the quarter-final in straight games after having three match points in the second game, held her nerves to come through 21-17, 21-23, 21-19. The Hyderabadi fell to her knees when she converted her fourth match point and seemed emotional as she left the court after the one hour 37 minute battle.
World No 5 Saina improved her record against Shixian to 3-1 and, prior to the match here, had defeated her to win the Swiss Open in March. She next plays South Korea’s Ji Hyun Sung, who packed off Xin Wang 21-16, 21-17. Earlier, World No 26 Kashyap came up with another stellar performance in the tournament as he outclassed Vittinghus. Kashyap, who stunned top seed Chen Long of China Thursday, took 39 minutes to dispatch a player ranked ten places above him with the final quarter-final scoreline being 21-15, 21-14. The 25-year-old now meets local hope Simon Santoso, who beat countryman Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka 21-17, 21-7.
A spring in Kashyap’s stride was apparent after the thumping win against the Chinese. He was unstoppable in the opening game, hitting a remarkable 17 smashes. It was much the same in the second game too as the Dane found it hard to contain Kashyap. National coach Pullela Gopichand said Kashyap’s performance once gain reaffirmed that he was capable of beating the top players.
“It was a very different match from yesterday (against Chen). Today, he led throughout the match and was confident with his strokes. Against Chinese players, you have to attack all the time, but with Vittinghus he could also defend. He made good use of the court and the win on Thursday has certainly given him a big boost,” Gopichand said. Kashyap has qualified for the London Games alongside Saina.