02 April, New Delhi
India’s premier shuttler Saina Nehwal failed to get the better of Olympic champion Li Xuerui of China in the semi-finals of the $300,000 India Open Superseries here on Saturday.
The Indian second seed lost the first game 20-22 but turned it around in the second game with a 21-17 victory over the third seed at the Siri Fort Sports Complex. However, defending champion Saina lost another close fight, this time 19-21 to exit the competition.
With this win that came in an hour and 12 minutes, double World Championship silver medallist Xuerui has taken a massive 11-2 advantage in career meetings against the 2015 World Championship runner-up.
In the final on Sunday, two-time Asian champion Xuerui will face former world champion Ratchanok Intanon, who moved past Bae Yeon Ju of South Korea 21-8, 21-11 in 36 minutes.
The 21-year-old Thai Intanon is also a former winner here and will be a tough nut to crack for Xuerui even if the latter leads the head-to-head record 7-4.
The men’s singles final will be contested between Japanese second seed Kento Momota and Danish fifth seed Viktor Axelsen.
World Championship 2015 bronze medallist Momota was trailing 17-21 and 3-6 when his opponent, Xue Song of China decided not to continue with the match due to fitness issues.
Axelsen crushed South Korean Wan Ho Son 21-11, 21-11 in 35 minutes.
Momota, 21, will be a heavy favourite as he leads the head-to-head records over 22-year-old Axelsen 5-2.