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Badminton
Saina became first Indian woman shuttler to climb world no. 1 rank
By Input from Agencies  Published on: 28-Mar-2015 02:00:09
Place: New Delhi
 
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New Delhi: Saina Nehwal and K Srikanth reached their maiden semifinals at the India Open Super Series badminton tournament but giant-killer H S Prannoy and RMV Gurusaidutt failed to capitalise on early advantages and went down fighting in the quarterfinals here on Friday.

Saina became first Indian woman shuttler to climb  world no. 1 rank

Five-time world champion Lin Dan also made a stunning exit from the tournament as world number 10 Tommy Sugiarto beat him 21-17 15-21 21-17 in the men's singles at the Siri Fort Sports Complex here.

Olympic bronze medallist, Saina sailed past Indonesia's Hana Ramadhini 21-15 21-12 in the women's singles competition to stay just one win away from becoming the first Indian woman to achieve the world number one ranking.

Reigning world and All England champion, Carolina Marin of Spain also eked out a 21-15, 17-21, 21-15 win over sixth seed Japanese Nozomi Okuhara to set up a clash with former world champion Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand, seeded third.

In men's singles, world number four Srikanth outwitted Japan's Takuma Ueda 21-15 23-25 21-18 in a hard-fought battle that lasted an hour an 19 minutes.

Prannoy, who had sent the top seed and world number two Jan Jorgensen of Denmark packing, also conjured up hopes of another upset before falling short against world number six Viktor Axelsen 21-16 9-21 18-21.

Commonwealth Games bronze medallist, Guru had started the proceedings for India and despite playing a compact game initially, he too ran out of ideas in the end to go down 21-15 18-21 13-21 to China's Xue Song in a match that lasted over an hour.

The reigning China Super Series premier champions, Saina and Srikanth, will next take on Japan's Yui Hashimoto and China's Xue Song respectively in the semifinals tomorrow.

Saina led 10-6 early on but Hana blasted off four straight points to catch up with the Indian. However, Saina slowly increased the gap with her rival to eventually win the first game.

The Indian dished out a better game in the second, as she entered the break with a healthy 11-4 lead and capitalised on the advantage as her opponent crumbled.

After beating Hana, Saina said: "I played her first time. She is tricky player. Indonesians have good wrist and they make you work hard. All of them are very talented, women's singles is all about keep running."

Asked about her inching towrds world number one spot, Saina said: "It is not about the number one or number two spot right now."

"I am concentrating on one match at a time and on winning them," added the world number two.

Up against a familiar foe, Takuma, whom he had beaten at Swiss Open earlier this month, Srikanth dished out another superb performance. The lad from Guntur registered five straight games after enjoying a narrow 7-5 lead to zoom ahead. Takuma narrowed down the lead to 11-14 but Srikanth held his fort.

The second game was a rollercoaster ride as Srikanth fought back from 5-12 down to draw parity at 20-all but the Japanese still managed to eke out a win to bounce back in the contest.

In the decider, Srikanth broke off from 5-5 to lead 15-9. Takuma, however, managed to claw his back to 18-19 but the Indian had the last laugh.

"I am happy that I could play such a long match. I had beaten him in the quarterfinals of Swiss Open. I should have finished the match in the second game itself as I had few match points but I couldn't. I feel I have a realistic chance to win this tournament," Srikanth said later.

After plotting an early exit for Jorgensen, Prannoy was up against yet another Dane and he used his backhand and powerful smashes to dominate the first game but Viktor came back strongly in the second and didn't allow the Indian to play his game.

Prannoy faltered with his down-the-line smashes which went wide and long as the Dane roared into the contest.

In the decider, Prannoy committed too many unforced errors as Viktor went into the 11-6 lead with a smash. The Dane falterd in the nets and also had a service fault which allowed the Indian to gather a few points. However, the Dane still managed a five-point lead reaching 19-14.

Prannoy tried his bit and saved a few points but it was too late as Viktor sealed the issue with a smash.

"I was making lot of mistakes on the sideways, smashes were not accurate and I was not patient on the court. I am not happy with my performance today," Prannoy said later.

Guru started on a positive note and led 11-8 in the opener. He troubled Song with his sharp angled strokes and dominated the rallies before earning the bragging rights when the Chinese hit he shuttle out.

In the second game too, Guru lead 11-9 at the break but Song changed his tactics after the interval to open up a slender 14-12 lead. The duo fought hard to move to 14-14 and 17-17 beore the Chinese changed gears and bounced back when Guru found the net.

In the decider, Guru once again led 7-3 but Song ensured that he went into the interval with a narrow 11-10 lead. The Chinese started dominating the rallies and rode on Guru's unforced errors to increase the gap and soon earned seven match points when the Indian hit wide. Song then closed the door on the Indian at the next chance.

"I was dominating initially first game but then Song didnt me a chance to drible and he started attacking. I took too long to switch to realise, and could not switch to plan B. But i have a lot of positives to take from this game," Guru said.

Results:

Women's singles: Ratchanok Intanon [3](THA) bt Yao Xue(CHN) 21-14 21-8; Saina Nehwal [1] (IND) bt Hana Ramadhini (INA), 21-15 21-12; Carolina Marin [2] (ESP) bt Nozomi Okuhara [6] (JPN) 21-15, 17-21, 21-15.

Men's singles: Viktor Axelsen [6](DEN)bt HS Prannoy (IND) 16-21 21-9 21-18; Tommy Sugiarto [8] (INA) bt Lin Dan [3] (CHN) 21-17 15-21 21-17; Xue Song (CHN) bt RMV Gurusaidutt (IND) 15-21 21-18 21-13.

 

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