Valiant Saina Nehwal bows out of Hong Kong Open

A valiant Saina Nehwal went down fighting against Hong Kong’s Cheung Ngan Yi 8-21, 21-18, 19-21 to bow out of Hong Kong Open Super Series in the last eight clash on Friday.
Saina, who is on a comeback trail after recovering from a serious knee injury, lost the first game 8-21 in just 12 minutes, but fought back superbly to win the second game 21-18.
Saina’s movements across the court were slow to start with but the former World No. 1 rose to the challenge in the second game to take the lead. Cheung then won six straight points to take a 11-7 lead. But after the game interval, Saina went on to win four consecutive points aided by some brilliant smashes to make it 11-11.
With Cheung having taken a 13-11 lead, a 38-shot rally enabled Saina to reduce it to 12-13 and another superb smash by the Indian made it 14-14.
The umpire got it wrong to give Saina a 17-16 lead but an intervention by the tournament referee ensured that the right decision was made to make it 16-16. But an undeterred Saina didn’t lose her momentum and went on to win the game 21-18 to take the match into the decider.
The third game saw Saina take a quick 7-3 lead. But local favourite Cheung then won five straight points to make it level at 9-9. The change of ends advantage went to Cheung with a 11-10 lead. Cheung slipped, dived, got up and won an incredible rally to take a 13-11 lead and was just three points away from winning the match when Saina won six straight points to reduce the deficit to 17-18.
But Cheung fought her way back in the match and egged on by the crowd, won the third game 21-19 to emerge victorious after an hour and 18-minute clash that saw some pulsating badminton.
Cheung will meet Sindhu in the semi-final on Saturday.
Earlier in the day, Sindhu fought her way to the semi-finals after defeating Xiaoyu Liang of Singapore.
Sindhu won a grueling contest 21-17, 21-23, 21-18 and was trailing by two points in the early stages of the first game before jumping to 15-11 lead and held on to win it 21-17.
The second game saw a fierce battle between the two as the Hyderabadi shuttler was cruising towards the game with a comfortable 17-13 lead but Liang made a superb counter attack to take the second game and drew level.
The decider went to the wire with both shuttlers winning points one after the other before Sindhu held her nerves to prevail.
Saina also crashed out of the elite bracket in the latest BWF world ranking, in which she was toppled by Sindhu, who last week clinched her maiden Super Series Premier title at the China Open. Sindhu jumped two places to grab the ninth spot, while Saina slipped five places to 11th spot, owing to her first round exit at China Open.
Analysing her quarter-final match that she won in three games, Sindhu said although she managed to pull it off she was not up to the mark.
“I was leading but lost the second game. She (Xiaoyu Lian) played well. I was very nervous and gave a huge lead. I was 7-15 down in the third. My shots were going out, even the once I had to get. I was not confident in playing strokes. Even when I played safe the shots were going out.
“I didn’t know what to play. After 7-15 I got confident. Liang is good, she has improved a lot. I was not up to the mark,” said Sindhu.

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