Birmingham: Indian ace Saina Nehwal and Rio Olympic silver medallist crashed out of the All England Championship after as India’s fight in the prestigious tournament came to an end on Friday.
Saina’s gallant fight against World No. 3 Korean Sung Ji Hyun ended with a narrow 20-22, 20-22 loss in the women's singles quarterfinals of the Super Series Premier event here.
World No. 10 Saina blew 17-12 and 9-6 leads in the two games to go down fighting against Sung in a 54-minute battle to drew curtains on India's campaign at the prestigious tournament here last night.
PV Sindhu had also lost her quarterfinal match in straight games to World No. 1 Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei.
World No. 5 Sindhu, who had beaten Tai Tzu en route to her Rio Games silver, was erratic and couldn't break the defence of the Chinese Taipei shuttler, to go down 14-21 10-21 in 34 minutes at the Barclaycard Arena. With this win, Tai Tzu entered her third successive semifinals of the prestigious tournament.
In the first game, Sindhu opened up a 10-7 lead but Tai Tzu fought back with her deceptive cross court returns to not only draw level but also take the lead with another acute angled stroke on Sindhu's backhand.
Tai Tzu engaged in a fierce rally but it ended with Sindhu hitting the net. A sharp drop shot from back of court helped Sindhu to draw parity. But the Chinese Taipei player managed to surge to a 17-12 lead with the Indian hitting wide and long and at the nets.
Sindhu tried to change the pace but Tai Tzu was always a step ahead and she eventually earned the bragging rights when the Indian lost a video referral.
After the change of ends, Tai Tzu once again opened up a narrow 6-2 lead with Sindhu's strokes going to the net. The Indian was good but Tai Tzu was better. The Chinese Taipei player's movement and accuracy, timing and variety of strokes made her a difficult customer to tame. The result was Tai Tzu soon marched to a 8-3 lead.
Tai Tzu followed her strokes well and was also fast in approaching the net. She played with soft hands at the nets and caught up the Indian at the fore court to gather points. Soon she was 11-5 up.
After the breather, Tai Tzu continued to gather points with her superb footwork and strokes even though Sindhu did pocket a few points here and there, but she was largely erratic with many strokes going long.
Another video referral went Tai Tzu's way and she reached the match point with a cross court smash, which Sindhu sent to the net and the Chinese Taipei girl came up with another razor-sharp smash to seal the match.
Saina had a 6-1 head-to-head record against the Korean going into the match but that didn't matter as Sung held on to her nerves in crucial moments to emerge victorious in their eighth meeting at the international circuit.
The 26-year-old from Hyderabad, who had clinched the Malaysia Masters Grand Prix Gold, had to do a catch up act right from the start but she managed to grab a four-point lead at the break after reeling off four straight points having levelled the scores at 7-7.
After the breather, Saina further consolidated her advantage to reach 17-12 at one stage but then the Korean pocketed eight points on the trot to grab three game point advantage.
Saina though managed to level par with three points, Sung closed the game with two points to earn the bragging rights. In the second game, the third seeded Korean opened up a 3-0 lead before Saina turned the tables and moved to a 9-6 lead. The Indian entered the break with a slender 11-9 lead but Sung once again clawed back and slowly distanced herself to reach a three match point advantage yet again.
A fighting Saina once again saved the three match points but only to allow Sung grab the crucial two points to end her campaign....