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Swiss Open: Saina books quarterfinal against Liu Xin

Saina Nehwal

Basel: World No.5 Saina Nehwal moved one step closer to defending her Swiss Open GP Gold title by overcoming Dutch veteran Judith Meulendijks in the second round. However, her compatriots Rupesh Kumar and Sanave Thomas failed to progress beyond the second round and went down to Indonesia’s world No.10 pair Alvent Yulianto/ Hendra Gunawan in three tough games.

Rupesh and Sanave had achieved one of their career’s best wins against the same Indonesian pair at the Thomas Cup preliminaries recently, but failed to repeat that feat. After losing the first game, they took the second relatively easily, raising visions of a repeat upset, but Gunawan and Yulianto raised their game from 8-all in the third and steadily built up an unbeatable lead.

Saina booked her quarterfinal spot against world No.12 Liu Xin. Considering she has lost the last eight of her last nine matches against the Chinese, this tie will be closely watched. The Indian world No.5 unexpectedly lost her first game against the Dutchwoman Meulendijks. Saina was comfortably placed at 9-3 but Meulendijks levelled at 10 and the game remained close until 19-all, and Meulendijks suddenly took the next two points and the first game.

But the effort apparently was too much. The best she could do in the second game was to remain level at 7-all, as the Indian stepped on the gas and left the Dutch girl panting. The third game was a washout, as Meulendijks could get only six points.

With her closest competitors Wang Yihan and Jiang Yanjiao giving walkovers earlier, Saina has to contend with world No.2 Wang Shixian, assuming she first gets past Liu Xin.



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