Saina marches on; Verma crashes out

 Ace Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal continued her comeback while promising youngster Sourabh Verma stunned world number eight Peter Gade in the first round before bowing out in the pre-quarterfinals of the Denmark Super Series here on Thursday.

Saina beat World number 28 Japanese Minatsu Mitani of Japan 21-15, 21-14 in a 20-minute women’s singles second round contest. Sourabh pulled off a sensational win over home favourite Gade 21-18, 21-14 in an encounter that lasted 42 minutes. The 19-year-old, however, went down to Sony Dwi Kuncoro of Indonesia 21-19, 21-17 in the last-16 stage.

Saina will next take on the winner of another pre-quarterfinal match between qualifier Lok Yan Poon and fifth seed Tine Baun on Friday. Saina took time to get in her elements but once in her zone, she didn’t delay the inevitable.

Minatsu surprised Saina by clinching the first 15 points without losing her serve, going 15-0 up.

But Saina fought back to win the next 21 points to take the first game 21-15. In the second game, the Indian opened up a 4-0 lead and extended it to 11-4 in a jiffy. Mitani did well to reel off six straight points and move to 10-11. But after the break, Saina crafted her way to seal the issue.

Saina recorded 27 smash winners in comparison to the 19 by her opponent. The 22-year-old, who has beaten Mitani twice before, was also better at the net.

Another Indian shuttler Ajay Jayaram, however, lost 21-19, 8-21, 9-21 to seventh-seeded Chinese Pengyu Du.

In the 59-minute match, Ajay, who was a finalist at the National Championships, showed promise to start with but eventually fizzled out against his fancied rival.

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