Shuttler Saina Nehwal's chances of advancing in the BWF World Superseries Finals dipped further here Thursday when she lost in straight games to World No.1 Li Xuerui of China for her second successive defeat in the group stage.
The bad season only got worse for Saina as the world number six, who did not win a single title this year, failed to recover from the opening match lose and suffered a 9-21 14-21 defeat to the world number one Chinese in women's singles competition at the Kuala Lumpur Badminton Stadium here.
The 23-year-old Indian had defeated the Chinese twice in the past during her 2012 Indonesia Open triumph and in 2010 Singapore Super Series but those two victories could not spur up Saina enough as she went down in just 27 minutes to defending champion Li.
However, Korean Yeon Ju Bae kept the Indian's mathematical chances of making the semifinals alive when she hammered Mitani 21-10, 21-18 in another match Thursday.
Saina will now have to beat Bae Friday and hope that Xuerui packs off Mitani to ensure a three-way tie for the second place.
The sixth-ranked player from Hyderabad, who is the lone Indian playing in the elite event, has been battling inconsistent form
Saina failed to put up any fight against Xuerui, who now bettered her record against the Indian to 6-2. The Chinese had also beaten Saina in the previous edition of the tournament.
Saina, who lost to Minatsu Mitani yesterday, will next play Yeon Ju Bae of Korea in the last group match tomorrow. Plagued by injuries and inconsistent form this year, Saina made early exits in tournaments throughout the year but she had hoped for a change of fortune in the extremely competitive Super Series Finals, where the top eight shuttlers compete for the coveted title.