Saina advances at Asian tourney

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Wuhan (China), April 28 (IANS) Star Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal defeated Nitchaon Jindapol of Thailand in straight games in the pre-quarterfinals of the women’s singles category at the Asia Badminton Championship here on Thursday.

The fifth seeded Saina did not face too many problems with her Thai opponent as she carved out a comfortable 21-14, 21-18 win. She will now face Wang Shixian of China in the quarter-finals.

P.V. Sindhu, the other Indian in the fray, put up a strong fight against Tai Tzu Ying of Taiwan before suffering a narrow 21-13, 20-22, 8-21 defeat in a match that lasted for an hour.

Sindhu started well by winning the opening game. She had a comfortable 12-6 lead in the second game as well before Tai made a remarkable comeback. Tai equalised at 15-15 before Sindhu regained the lead at 20-19. But the Taiwanese shuttler held her nerves in the closing stages to clinch the second game and level the issue.

Tai then dominated the third and decisive game to take a well deserved victory.

Meanwhile, World No.1 Ratchanok Intanon’s hopes of retaining her women’s singles title came to a crashing end when she was beaten by the unseeded Sayaka Sato of Japan.

Sayaka came back from a set down to stun the Thai 17-21, 21-16, 21-17 in a 63-minute battle. The fourth seeded Ratchanok had come into this tournament on a run of superb form that had yielded three Superseries titles in three weeks.

Ratchanok won the India Open, followed by the Malaysia Open and then the Singapore Open, which propelled her to the top of the world rankings, displacing Carolina Marin of Spain.

Last year’s runners-up Li Xuerui of China also had a close call before defeating Akane Yamaguchi, also of Japan. Xuerui also toiled for 63 minutes for her 21-16, 18-21, 21-19 win. Xuerui will face Tai Tzu Ying in the quarter-finals.

In the mixed doubles event, the third seeded Chinese pair of Liu Cheng and Bao Yixin retired after 12 minutes against Bodin Issara and Savitree Amitrapai of Thailand with the score tied at 9-9.

However, top seeds Zhang Nan-Zhao Yunlei had no trouble advancing to the quarter-finals with an easy 21-10, 21-12 win over Malaysia’s Tan Kian Meng and Lai Pei Jing in 33 minutes.

Defending champions and second seeds Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir of Indonesia are also through to the quarter-finals after defeating China’s Xu Chen and Ma Jin 21-12, 21-16.

All-England champions Praveen Jordan Debby Susanto were shown the exit when the Indonesian pair fell in straight sets 17-21, 20-22 to Kim Gi-jung and Shin Seung-chan of South Korea in 41 minutes.

In the men’s singles category, last year’s runners-up Tian Houwei, the fifth seed, brushed aside Hong Kong’s Angus Ng Ka Long 21-18, 21-14 while seventh seeded Tommy Sugiarto of Indonesia tamed Thai veteran Boonsak Ponsana 21-17, 21-9. Taiwan’s Wang Tzu Wei made short-work of Indonesian youngster Christie Jonatan in three sets, winning 21-9, 15-21, 21-8 in 62 minutes.

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