Saina bows out; Srikanth advances

Defending champion Saina Nehwal’s hopes of retaining her Thailand Grand Prix Gold title went up in smoke as she suffered a stunning three-game defeat to Singapore’s Juan Gu in the quarterfinals of the women’s singles competition here on Friday.

The world number two Indian lost 21-13, 12-21, 18-21 to eighth seed Juan in a 53-minute match at the Nimitbutr National Stadium here. This was Saina’s first defeat to the Singaporean in six encounters.

Prannoy HS also failed to clear the last-eight hurdle losing to Indonesia’s Wisnu Yuli Prasetyo 12-21, 19-21 while Srikanth K was the lone Indian survivor.

Srikanth dominated his South Korean opponent Wan Ho Son just 40 minutes to beat him 21-17, 21-18.

Earlier, after Saina took the first game, world number 23 Juan came back strongly in the second game and turned the heat on Saina, moving into the break at 11-7. The China-born Singaporean didn’t give Saina much chance to fight back and levelled the contest at 21-12.

Saina took a 5-2 lead in the decider but Juan turned the tables to hold the advantage at 11-10. Saina once again bounced back to lead 15-13 but the Singaporean then grabbed the initiative and powered home.

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