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Saina loses in Malaysia Open semis reigning Olympic champion Li Xuerui

World No.1 shuttler Saina Nehwal lost her women’s singles semi-final to reigning Olympic champion Li Xuerui at the $500,000 Malaysia Open Superseries Premier in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday.

The Chinese beat the third seeded Saina in a marathon match that lasted an hour and eight minutes. The top seed eventually won 13-21, 21-17, 22-20 at the Putra Stadium. The Indian challenge in the tournament ended with Saina’a loss.

Saina Nehwal

Despite the overhyped status as World No.1, Saina Nehwal semi-final clash with China’s reigning Olympic champion Li Xuerui after she beat Chinese Sun Yu 21-11, 18-21, 21-17 in the quarter-finals of the $500,000 Malaysia Open Superseries Premier at the Putra Stadium ended in disaster.

Olympic bronze medallist Saina found it tough to go past World No.3 Xuerui, who battled past compatriot and former World champion Yihan Wang 14-21, 21-15, 21-12 in 55 minutes. Saina, 25, trailed two-time World Championships silver medallist Xuerui 2-8 in career meetings.

However, Saina was in her element from the beginning in the match against Sun. She hardly broke into a sweat before capturing the first game 21-11.

But in the second game, World No.15 Sun showed grit and fought her way back. She raced to a 7-1 advantage and Saina chased the game before six straight points helped her equalise at the 14-point mark. However, Sun kept her calm to take the second game 21-18.

Saina controlled the third game from the start. Relying on a strong array of strokes and sharp movement inside the court, the Hyderabadi enjoyed a 11-7 lead at the break.

Sun fired seven points on the trot to level the game at 14-all and even held a 17-16 lead before Saina asserted herself and grabbed five consecutive points to snatch the game 21-17.

With this win in an hour and 11 minutes, Saina, who last week won the India Open, took a 3-1 lead over the 21-year-old Sun in career meetings.

In the other semi-final reigning world champion Carolina Marin faces former World No.1 Shixian Wang of China, who staved off Japanese Nozomi Okuhara 21-19, 15-21, 22-20 in a marathon encounter that lasted one hour and 51 minutes.

World No.2 Carolina of Spain dismissed Hong Kong qualifier Yi Ngan Cheung 21-12, 21-9 in just 34 minutes.

In men’s singles competition, China’s World No.1 Chen Long beat Japanese Kento Momota 21-16, 21-11. Reigning world champion Chen will meet compatriot Wang Zhengming who beat Xue Song 21-17, 21-9.

World No.2 and European champion Jan O Jorgensen also progressed to the semi-finals after registering a comprehensive 21-9, 21-15 victory over Hong Kong’s Wei Nan.

China’s five-time world champion Lin Dan overcame compatriot Tian Houwei 11-21, 21-16, 21-13. Two-time Olympic champion Dan will meet Danish Jorgensen in the semi-final.(IANS)

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