P V Sindhu survived a scare before making the semifinals but Saina Nehwal was thoroughly outplayed in her straight-game quarterfinal loss on a mixed day for India at the Singapore Open badminton tournament on Friday. Rio Games silver-winner Sindhu defeated world No.18 and 2017 BWF World Junior Championship bronze-medallist Cai Yanyan of China 21-13 17-21 21-14 to set up a meeting with former world champion Nozomi Okuhara.
It is Sindhu’s second semifinal of the season, following a last-four finish at the India Open last month. The second-seeded Okuhara, hailing from Japan, didn’t break much sweat on her way to a 21-8 21-13 win over sixth seed Saina, a bronze-medallist at the London Olympics. Sindhu broke off at 5-5 in the opening game to earn the bragging rights but her Chinese rival came back strongly in the second game, opening up a lead of 11-6 at the break.
The Indian fought back superbly to narrow the lead to 15-16 before Cai marched ahead to take the match to the decider. In the third game, Sindhu once again found her bearings and surged to a lead of 11-5 before the interval. The Indian continued to move ahead and closed out the match comfortably in the end.
In contrast, Saina, who had defeated Okuhara in their last three meetings and also enjoyed a 9-4 advantage ahead of this clash, fell apart against the Japanese in a lop-sided clash.
Okuhara jumped to a 9-0 lead, a gap which Saina failed to breach, collecting only eight points in the first game.
In the second, Saina rose to 4-0 but Okuhara clawed back at 6-6 and then turned the tables, reaching 11-8 at the breather.
The Japanese then moved ahead at 12-11 and didn’t look back.