Saina Nehwal may have broken her second round jinx at the Yonex Sunrise India Open but had no answers to her long time nemesis Wang Yihan. In her maiden quarterfinals here, Saina went down to the World No 2 from China 16-21, 14-21.
Parupalli Kashyap, who took to Court after Saina, also lost. Up against World No 1 Lee Chong Wei, Kashyap went down 15-21, 13-21 but he did manage to thrill the gathering with his attacking game.
The loss of Saina and Kashyap brought down the curtains on Indian interest in the tournament. It was always going to be a tall order for the Indians against the two best players in the world.
Kashyap, a semfinalist here in 2012, had never won against Lee in their last three meetings. Likewise, Saina in her last seven meetings with Wang, a London Games silver medallist, had gone past her only once, that too when the Chinese pulled out due to an injury.
On Friday, Wang with her good all-round game, dictated the match from the outset. Her backhand flicks often caught Saina off-guard and she cleverly mixed the pace of her strokes to keep the Indian ace on the move.
Saina attacked the net but made a lot of errors. Nothing seemed to go her way including the two challenges she used for the line-calls. The hawk-eye technology made its debut in the tournament from Friday.
After the Chinese opened up an 12-18 lead, Saina briefly pulled it back bridging the the gap to 16-19 but Wang quickly closed out the game when the Indian’s return was long. A dispirited Saina didn’t have much to offer in the second game and Wang zoomed to 11-4 lead before holding a clutch of match points at 20-10. After squandering four of them, the Chinese sealed the contest with a smash.
Saina later confessed: “Yihan is a strong opponent for all the players. It’s not that we cannot beat her. But sometimes a few errors make the difference and today (Friday) that really gave her a huge lead. Playing her again and again will only improve my game. In fact I have played much better than last time.”
Kashyap ran into a wall in Lee, a two-time champion here. The Malaysian, unhurried and retrieving with ease, was largely untroubled in the 40-minute contest barring the first game when the 24th ranked Indian, with some powerful smashes, made it a neck and neck affair till 15-14. “My smashes were good but he was too fast and too sharp at the net, “said Kashyap.
It will be an all-Chinese in the women’s singles competition with top seed Li Xuerei playing qualifier Xin Liu, with Yihan facing of against Wang Shixian.
In the men’s singles, Chong Wei will play Chinese Du Pengyu and Denmark’s Jan O Jorgensen will be up against China’s Chen Long.
Results (Indians unless mentioned): Quarterfinals: Men singles: 1-Lee Chong Wei (Mas) bt Parupalli Kashyap 21-15, 21-13; 7-Du Pengyu (Chn) bt Viktor Axelsen (Den) 21-11, 22-24, 21-19; 4-Jan O Jorgensen (Den) bt Takuma Ueda (Jpn) 21-11, 21-13; 2-Chen Long (Chn) bt Hans-Kristian Vittinghus (Den) 21-17, 21-15.
Women’s singles: 1-Li Xuerui (Chn) bt 5-Bae Yeon Ju (Kor) 21-7, 21-15; Xin Liu (Chn) bt Aprilla Yuswandari (Ina) 21-15, 21-8; 3-Wang Yihan (Chn) bt 8-Saina Nehwal 21-16, 21-14; 2-Wang Shixian (Chn) bt 6-Sung Ji Hyun (Kor) 21-13, 17-21, 21-17.