Saina cruises into quarterfinal, Sindhu bows out of Asia Badminton Championship

Saina Nehwal 26Wuhan: Indian badminton ace Saina Nehwal entered the quarter-final of the Asia Badminton Championship in Wuhan, China on Thursday after defeating Nitchaon Jindapol of Thailand in straight games. However, P V Sindhu’s run in the tournament came to an end after losing to eighth-seed Tai Tzu Ying.

Saina, who withdrew from the Singapore Open and China Masters GPG to prepare for the Asia Badminton Championship, made it to her fifth quarter-final in a row after defeating Nitchaon Jindapol of Thailand 21-14, 21-18 in a match that lasted 45 minutes. The World No.8 had defeated the Thai shuttler in the opening round of the Malaysia Open and second round of the India Open back in March and once again made it look easy by securing victory in a one-sided match.

The fifth-seeded Indian won the first point of the match and never looked back from there on by winning point after point to race away from the World No.25. Saina, who defeated Fitriani Fitriani of Indonesia in the opening round yesterday, was on top form and dominated Jindapol from start to finish to take the opening game 21-14.

The second game started out similar to the first, but the unseeded Thai showed more spirit and came close to the Indian before the break by making it 10-9. But there was no stopping Saina, as the 2012 Olympics bronze medallist pulled away by winning four points in a row. Jindapol did not give up as she also won three points on the trot to remain two points behind the Indian. However, Saina remained calm and collected her points with ease to win the second game 21-18 and with it the match.

The 26-year-old will have a tough job on her hands in the quarters on Friday, when she faces third-seed Wang Shixian of China. Saina trails the Chinese 6-7 in their head-to-head record and her last victory came way back in 2014 in the group match of the BWF Super Series Finals in Dubai.

However, India’s day at the Championship had earlier started on a sour note after P V Sindhu bowed out of the tournament. Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei, who has defeated Saina Nehwal in the last six meetings, proved to be too good for the Indian as she won the match 13-21, 22-20, 21-8.

Sindhu started the match on a positive note winning the opening game 21-13 and was almost on the brink of winning the second game. Sindhu had a 15-10 lead, before the Chinese Taipei shuttler made a comeback by winning six points in a row. However, the 20-year old recovered once again and got a match point opportunity at 20-19. However, the two-time World Championship bronze medallist bottled the chance to wrap the match up and gave Tai Tzu Ying an opportunity to make a comeback. The eighth seed took it with both hands and won three points in a row to take the match to a decider.

The agonising loss in the second game took too much out of Sindhu as she failed to challenge the World No. 9. With the momentum on her side, Tai Tzu Ying won eight consecutive points at the start and did not look back from there as she raced to a 21-8 win to confirm her place in the quarters.

India’s campaign in the men’s singles, men’s and women’s doubles had all ended on Wednesday after most Indian shuttlers suffered first-round exits.