Saina storms into semis

Badminton Asian Championships: World No 6 defeats Mew; Mutatkar crashes out in quarterfinals

Saina storms into semis

Focussed: India’s Saina Nehwal en route to her quarterfinal win over Malaysia’s Mew Choo Wong on Friday. AP

Saina, world No 6, was in sublime touch as she dispatched Mew Choo Wong 21-5, 21-13 in just 28 minutes that brought much needed relief in the Indian camp after three disappointing defeats of its players early in the day at the Siri Fort Sports Complex.
Before Saina’s win, top-seeded mixed doubles pair of Jwala Gutta and Valiyaveetil Diju ran out of steam in the third game, losing eight points at a stretch, and went down to Chinese pair of Zihan Qiu and Qing Tian 21-15, 11-21, 14-21 in a 47-minute thriller at the same court.

Mutatkar’s dream run was also halted as she bowed out with a straight-set loss to unknown Chinese qualifier Xin Liu. Mutatkar, who pulled out two brilliant victories to make it to her first Asian Badminton quarterfinals, was no match for the Chinese and went down 14-21, 11-21.

India’s challenge in the men’s double also ended with Rupesh Kumar and Sanave Thomas going down to Korean Sang Hoon Han and Ji Man Hwang 21-17, 16-21, 15-21.
The third seeded Indian pair looked in command in the first game but the Koreans picked up their game in the second to turn the tables. A stream of errors from the Indians cost them the match.

Saina, however, progressed with ease. She showed supple wrist and soft hands in the first game and raced ahead to 11-2 pocketing nine points in a row. The Malaysian had no answers to Saina’s drop shots.

In the second game Saina made an attacking start and surged to 12-5. The deficit was too much for the Malaysian, who closed the gap with Saina making some errors from the fast-end of the court. The Indian, however, quickly got her focus back and mixed her strokes well with varying pace to seal the match.

Saina will meet Chinese qualifier Xuerui Li, who beat Japan’s Ayane Kuhihara 17-21, 21-16, 21-14. Liu will take on second seed Hong Kong’s Mi Zhou, who beat fifth seeded Thailand’s Salakjit Ponsana  23-21, 21-17.

In the men’s singles draw, second seed and World Champion Lin Dan made short work of compatriot Yun Hu 21-11, 21-10 to set-up a clash with Thailand’s Boonsak Ponsana, who beat Malaysian Muhammad Hafiz Hashim 21-19, 17-21, 21-10.

In the other men’s semifinal, All England Championships semifinalist Japanese Kenichi Tago, seeded sixth, will take on Chinese Zhengming Wang.Zhengming defeated Japanese Shoji Sato 21-14, 21-18 while Tago got past Taufik Hidayat slayer Hsuan Yi Hsueh 21-13, 21-16.

Earlier, Mutatkar, who is coming back from a knee injury, never looked like putting up a fight with the Chinese mixing her strokes.

“I just could not keep up with the pace of the game. She was stronger and very fast. I was reading her shots but was not able to retrieve,” she said.
The Chinese broke away from 8-8 to take the lead and then consolidated from there.
Mutatkar made a string of errors in judging the flight of the shuttle in the second game that saw the Chinese race ahead 4-1.

The Indian then slowly came from behind and seemed like catching up with her opponent. But Xin’s deceptive drop shots caught Mutatkar unawares.
Mutatkar’s best point was when she won the longest rally with a fine drop shot from the mid-court to make it 9-13. But from there on she again made too many errors.

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