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Saina beats Yihan, storms into All England semis

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Birmingham, March 7 (IANS) Leading Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal got the better of former Chinese World Champion Yihan Wang 21-19, 21-6 to march into the semifinals of the $500,000 All England Open Badminton Championships at the Barclaycard Arena here.

The Olympic bronze medallist was in her element from the start on Friday and never allowed Yihan to dictate the pace of play in the 39-minute contest. With the win, the World No.3 improved her career record against the Olympic silver medallist to 2-8.

The performance also helped the 24-year-old to equal her best showing at the prestigious Super Series Premier event. Saina, who was in the last four here previously in 2010 and 2013, earned a statement-making victory against Yihan, whom she has struggled to beat in the past.

Now, for a place in the final, Saina will meet World No.18 Sun Yu of China on Saturday against whom the Indian has won one and lost one.

At the start, Yihan threatened to run away as she took a 6-2 lead. However, the Indian clawed back to equalise at 8-all. It was a neck-and-neck affair till 13-all. Saina then came up with her vintage game to grab a five-point lead (18-13). She moved sharply and more importantly her defence was up to the task.

Even though World No.5 Yihan fought back with three straight points, Saina managed to hold her nerves and sealed the first game 21-19.

In the second game, Saina upped the ante and took an 8-0 lead in no time, aided by some regal cross-court smashes. Producing a volley of winners, Saina made it a cakewalk in the end with a 21-6 win.

“I’m happy with how I played. My strokes were good. We have had great fights in the past and I have a poor record against her so it’s unbelievable I was able to beat her with less than 10 points in the second game,” Saina said.

On her prospects against Sun Yu, Saina added, “I wasn’t expecting to play tomorrow. It’s a big match and it won’t be easy. I will get some rest and think about that later.”

In the other semi-final, reigning World Champion Carolina Marin will face seventh seed Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei.

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