PV Sindhu survived a scare before making the semifinals but Saina Nehwal was thoroughly outplayed in her straight-game quarterfinal loss on a mixed day for India at the Singapore Open badminton tournament here Friday.
Sindhu, in fact, emerged as the lone survivor after India’s campaign in men’s singles was over following the ouster of Kidambi Srikanth and Sameer Verma, and loss of mixed doubles Indian pair of Pranaav Jerry Chopra and N Sikki Reddy later in the day.
Rio Games silver-winner Sindhu defeated world No.18 and 2017 BWF World Junior Championship bronze-medallist Cai Yanyan of China 21-13 17-21 21-14 to set up a meeting with former world champion Nozomi Okuhara.
It is Sindhu’s second semifinal of the season, following a last-four finish at the India Open last month.
The second-seeded Okuhara, hailing from Japan, didn’t break much sweat on her way to a 21-8 21-13 win over sixth seed Saina, a bronze-medallist at the London Olympics.
In men’s singles, Srikanth’s struggle against Kento Momota continued as he suffered his ninth straight loss to the Japanese top seed, going down 18-21 21-19 9-21 in 66 minutes to end his campaign with yet another quarterfinal finish.
Sameer Verma, a world no 16, battled for an hour and nine minutes before losing 10-21 21-15 15-21 to second seeded Chinese Taipei Chou Tien Chen.
In mixed doubles, Pranaav and Sikki suffered a 14-21 16-21 loss to third seed Thai pair of Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai to bow out of the World Tour Super 500 tournament.
Sindhu broke off at 5-5 in the opening game to earn the bragging rights but her Chinese rival came back strongly in the second game, opening up a lead of 11-6 at the break.
The Indian fought back superbly to narrow the lead to 15-16 before Cai marched ahead to take the match to the decider.
In the third game, Sindhu once again found her bearings and surged to a lead of 11-5 before the interval. The Indian continued to move ahead and closed out the match comfortably in the end.
In contrast, Saina, who had defeated Okuhara in their last three meetings and also enjoyed a 9-4 advantage ahead of this clash, fell apart against the Japanese in a lop-sided clash.
Saina made with two unforced errors as Okuhara jumped to a 9-0 lead. The Japanese controlled the rallies to dominate the proceedings. The Indian failed to breach the gap, collecting only eight points. Okuhara eventually sealed the opening game when Saina hit the net.
In the second game, Saina rose to 4-0 initially. The Indian tried to put pressure on her rival but more often she ended up missing the lines or finding the net to bled points.
Okuhara clawed back at 6-6 and then turned the tables, reaching 11-8 at the breather. The Japanese then moved ahead at 12-11. In the end, a wide and a long shot from Saina handed over the match to Okuhara.
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