Fuzhou (China) : Defending champion Saina Nehwal emerged as the lone Indian survivor at the USD 700,000 China Open Super Series Premier after P V Sindhu suffered a close defeat in the pre-quarterfinals of the women’s singles competition at Fuzhou on Thursday.
Top seed Saina, who had a 2-0 record against Tee Jing Yi ahead of the match, notched up a 21-10 19-21 21-19 win against the World No. 34 Malaysian. However, the two-time bronze medallist at World Championship Sindhu blew away a first game lead and a 13-7 advantage in the second game to lose 21-18 18-21 16-21 to Shixian Wang of China in a match that lasted an hour and 28 minutes.
In the first game, Saina didn’t give any chance to Jing as she dominated proceedings from the start. However, Jing came back strongly in the second match as she fought back from 5-8 and 8-11 deficit to eventually roar back into the contest. In the decider, Jing had opened up a 6-2 lead early on but Saina drew parity at 8-8 and then got engaged in a tough battle with the Malaysian, who held the lead at 15-13 for a brief time before Saina stamped her authority and zoomed ahead.
In another pre-quarterfinal women’s singles match, Sindhu’s 4-3 record against Shixian meant little on Thursday as despite holding the edge early on in the match, she could not cross the finishing line.
Shixian enjoyed a 5-1 lead in the opening game but Sindhu caught up at 8-8. The Chinese once again broke off and led 16-12, but the Indian reeled off six points to move to 20-17, before closing the opening game.
The second round started with both shuttlers preying on each other’s errors. Shixian tried to vary the pace of the game and tested Sindhu with acute angled shots but she didn’t have the accuracy as Sindhu had most of the answers early on. Most points came from unforced errors as the shuttles were either going wide and long or getting buried in the net. A bodyline smash and a cross court drop took Sindhu to a five- point advantage at the break at 11-6. However, after the interval, the Chinese came back to draw parity at 13-13 after a long rally which she closed with a net shot and then grabbed the lead 14-13 with a down the line smash. Sindhu hit long a couple of times and then couldn’t reach for a shot at the forecourt as Shixian led 18-14. A couple of long shots gave Sindhu two points and she drew parity at 18-18. Sindhu hitting the net gave Shixian a 20-18 lead and with Sindhu’s another shot going out meant it was a remarkable come back by Shixian.
In the decider, Shixian entered the break with a 11-9 lead with an accurate smash which Sindhu let go. Sindhu won a video referral and then clawed back at 12-12 and then grabbed a slender lead with Shixian’s shot going out. However, Sindhu could not sustain the pressure. She faltered while going for a kill at the net and then Shixian came up with two drop shots to lead 17-14. The Indian could not recover after that as Shixian walked away with the match.