Malaysia Masters 2019: Saina Nehwal loses to Carolina Marin in semifinals
2017 champion Saina Nehwal blew a promising start to lose 16-21, 13-21 to three-time world champion Carolina Marin in the semi-finals, thereby ending the Indian challenge at the Malaysia Masters 2019 in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday.
Nehwal started the match aggressively and built a 5-2 lead over the Olympic champion before the southpaw could even find her rhythm. But once Marin began to make her mark, it became a difficult job for Saina. The Spaniard raced ahead to 8-5, winning six points on the trot following which Saina drew level at 9-9.
Marin moved ahead and failed to protect her lead once again due to her unforced errors. With the scores even at 14-14, it was where Marin finally accelerated to take seven of the next nine points.
In the second game, Marin refused to relinquish control of the proceedings. Her pace and power seemed to be overwhelming Nehwal who trailed 6-11 at the time of the mid-game interval.
Very soon, the World No. 6 headed to 17-11 before finishing it off with her trademark fiery smash down-the-line in 40 minutes.
The former top-ranked shuttler goes on to meet the defending champion Ratchanok Intanon who ended the sensational run of the world junior champion Goh Jin Wei 16-21, 16-21.
Saina was the last Indian standing at the first Super 500 tournament of the year. Earlier on Friday, Kidambi Srikanth had bowed out with a 23-21, 16-21, 17-21 loss to the fourth-seeded Son Wan Ho.
Both Saina and Srikanth will now turn their attention to the Indonesia Masters next week -- the second Super 500 event of the 2019 season. BWF World Tour Finals champion PV Sindhu too will be coming back at this tournament.
Nehwal reached the final in Indonesia last year and will hope to go one better this time.