On another fabulous day of badminton at the TianHe Indoor Gymnasium in Guangzhou, Indian stars came through unscathed to reach the quarter-finals of the Wang Lao Ji BWF World Championships. Saina Nehwal, P V Sindhu and Parupalli Kashyap entered the last eight of the tournament to keep the tri-colour flying high.
Four time world champion, Dan Lin turned on another solid performance to oust Wei Feng Chong to reach the quarter-finals. The top seeds Xeurui Li and Chong Wei Lee also advanced to the last eight scoring easy wins.
The capacity crowd in Guangzhou were served up some delicate fare by the World No.3 Saina Nehwal. The Indian came from behind to script a stirring three game victory over Porntip Buranaprasertsuk. The 3rd ranked Nehwal was pushed to wall by the 18th ranked Thai player, but the Indian fought resourcefully to score an entertaining 18-21, 21-16, 21-14 victory in 52 minutes.
In the tightly contested first game, Nehwal held the initial advantage with a three point cushion at 7-4. Porntip had taken Saina to the brink in the first game of their last meeting at the SCG Thailand Open in 2012. Though Nehwal had won that battle 24-22, the scars had left the Thai lady with the experience to challenge her yet again.
The lead changed hands a couple of times during the final stretch of the first game, but Porntip scored three straight to run away with the first game from 18-18. The Thai was at her aggressive best, smashing 11 winners to just two from Nehwal to take a game off the India for the first time since doing so in their first meeting back in 2008.
Nehwal had never lost to the Thai woman in five previous meetings, so it was no surprise when she put on a far more assured display in the second game. Having paid a heavy price for floating the bird too high in the first game, she made a clever switch in the second game. The world No.3 drew Porntip to the forecourt, effectively nullifying the fiery power of the 21-year-old.
In the third game, it was once again Nehwal that took charge. The Indian established control with a six point margin at 10-4, even as the Thai player struggled to deal with clever variations from her wily opponent. But the spirited Porntip won four points on the run, midway through the final game to set up an exciting climax. In the end, Nehwal’s ability to control flight and clever use of court space proved too daunting for her opponent.
Next up for Nehwal is Yeon Ju Bae, the 13th seeded Korean against whom she has a 5-2 career edge.