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Swiss Open: Saina powers past Chinese Liu Xin

Saina Nehwal

Basel: World No.5 Saina Nehwal remained on track to defend her Swiss Open title by reversing her recent lack of success against Chinese players. Saina overpowered world No.12 Liu Xin with a surprising degree of ease as she sauntered into a semifinal against an unknown Japanese.

The result must’ve relieved Saina no end, for she has won only one out of her last nine matches against top Chinese players. On Friday, she faced Liu Xin, her fellow bronze medallist at the Asian Championships in 2010. However, she has never played Liu Xin, and the match was hard to predict when it began.

However, Saina stamped her domination from the start, and rocketed away without Xin ever having a chance to catch up with her. From one-all, she steadily built leads of 11-3 and 15-5, before closing out 21-12.

Xin fought harder in the second game. Points remained almost level until mid-way, but Saina was always able to keep a marginal lead. At one stage it seemed  Saina would have it easy, going ahead 9-5, but Xin held on tenaciously, and managed to come within a point, at 11-12 and 12-13. At this stage the Indian held her nerve, and stepped up a gear to shoot ahead to 15-13 and then ran off six straight points to take the match.

She will next face unknown Japanese quantity Minatsu Mitani. In the other women’s singles semifinal, world No.2 Wang Shixian will take on Thai prodigy Ratchanok Inthanon.

Meanwhile, in the men’s singles, Taufik Hidayat booked a semifinal against long-time rival Chen Jin, whom he beat recently at the All England. Taufik overcame 13th seed Shon Wan Ho of Korea 21-19 in the third game.

The other semifinal will see Chen Long against Korean veteran Lee Hyun Il.

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