Indonesia Open: Saina Nehwal loses to Wang Shixian in quarters
World No. 3 Saina Nehwal, who on Thursday lost her No. 1 spot, lost to Wang Shixian of China in a marathon encounter losing 21-16 12-21 18-21. The head-to-head record between the two stood at an even 6-apiece with Ratchanok Intanon awaiting the winner of the 13th encounter between these two hitoried rivals.
Saina was completely dominant in the first set wrapping it up 21-16. Despite Wang Shixian taking a 2-point lead at the start, Saina roared back to win three in a row to lead 3-2. From that point, she never let go off the lead and went into the break with a comfortable 6-point lead.
After the break, Saina raced to 18-10 and looked like sealing the set comprehensively. However, the 5th seed had other ideas as she took 5 consecutive points to cast doubt in the Indian’s mind. With the score 19-15, both the players exchanged points and at 20-16, Saina took the set after an exhilarating 32-shot rally when Wang hit the shuttlecock wide.
The Chinese comeback
The second set started in contrast to the first with Saina racing to an early lead taking the first three points. However, the Chinese hit back with five straight points to take the lead. Trailing by 2 points, Saina displayed some exceptional strokeplay to regain her lead at 6-5, but Wang hit back straight away and went into the break leading the Indian 11-6.
Continuing where she left off before the break, Wang exhibited energetic play and made Saina run around the court. Looking visibly shaken by the comeback by the Chinese, who took a massive lead at 19-9, Saina tried her best to comeback taking three straight points. However, the Chinese, who gained a career-high ranking of 1 back in 2011, sealed the set at 21-12 to take the match into the decider.
The decider was a closely-contested affair with the momentum swinging with the blink of an eye. With the score at 6-7 in Wang’s favour, Saina grabbed the bull by its horns by taking a 5-point lead at 13-8. However, trailing by 5 points, Wang went on the attack and levelled the score at 15-all.
The longest rally of the match took place when the score was 18-19 in Wang’s favour. The point, which lasted 51 shots, was won by the Chinese, who set up two match points for herself, courtesy of exceptional defensive play. She, however, did not need two as she took the match at the first opportunity to complete a stunning comeback after going down in the first set.
With this result, Parupalli Kashyap is the only Indian left in the competition after early exits for K. Srikanth and PV Sindhu.