Indian campaign ends as Saina loses to Marin

BOWS OUT: Saina Nehwal of India returns during her straight-game defeat to Carolina Marin in the semifinals of the Malaysia Masters badminton tournament in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday. AFP

Saina Nehwal's impressive run at the Malaysia Masters came to an end following her straight-game loss to reigning Olympic and world champion Carolina Marin of Spain in the women's singles semifinals, here Saturday.

The 28-year-old Indian, who had won the title in 2017 and was a runners-up in the 2011 edition, went down 16-21, 13-21 to fourth seed Marin in a 40-minute match to bring an end to India's campaign at the first World Tour Super 500 tournament of the season.

Tied 5-5 ahead of the clash, Saina had made a good start to the match leading 5-2 at the start but an aggressive Marin reeled off seven straight points to turn the tables before grabbing a 11-9 lead at the break.

The Spaniard extended it to 13-9 before Saina clawed back at 14-14. However, Marin produced a determined effort to reach the game points after gathering six points on the trot.

She easily sealed the first game in 20 minutes with a measured return at the Indian's fore court.

In the second game, Marin was more dominant as she surged to a 6-1 lead early on and kept her stranglehold at the interval with a 11-6 advantage.

Saina tried to make a comeback but Marin was always a step ahead. The Spaniard slowly created a huge gap which the Indian failed to bridge.

Marin eventually grabbed eight match points with a cross court smash. Saina saved one with a deep corner smash which Marin failed to connect but the left-handed shuttler produced a straight return next to seal the issue in her favour. 

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Indian campaign ends as Saina loses to Marin

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