Two-time defending champion Saina Nehwal crashed out of the Swiss Open Grand Prix Gold badminton tournament after being stunned by a lower-ranked Shixian Wang of China in the women’s singles semifinal here.
Top seed Saina fought hard before losing 11-21 21-10 9-21 to fourth-seeded Chinese in a battle that lasted 50 minutes. Yesterday,on her 23rd birthday,the Hyderabadi looked completely off-colour.
Saina had defeated Shixian last week in the quarterfinal of the All England Open Badminton Championships and still leads 4-2 in career meetings,but the Indian found it difficult to negotiate her opponent’s game last night.
She failed to put up any challenge in the first game as the world no. 7 Chinese raced to an 8-0 lead. And from there on,Saina only played the catch up game and eventually lost 11-21. In the second game too,Saina was lagging 3-6 but the world no. 2 soon got her act together and clawed back. After a hard fight till 7-7,she managed to surge ahead and then held on to her game to bounce back. After opening up a lead of 13-10,Saina notched eight straight points to take the game.
But once again in the decider,the Indian started to make wrong line judgements and unforced errors. Shixian didn’t allow Saina any chance to comeback into the match. Having opened up a 5-0 lead,the Chinese kept increasing the gap and comfortably sealed the issue in her favour at the end.
She needed just one match point to cap it off. Shixian’s deft touches at the net proved to be the difference between the two shuttlers. The Chinese will take on Thailand’s fifth seed Ratchanok Intanon in the final.