Scintillating Saina storms into semis

Dubai: Olympic bronze medallist Saina Nehwal continued her rampaging run to storm into the semi-finals of the BWF World Super Series Final, clinching a pulsating three-game thriller against Bae Yeon Ju of Korea on Friday.

Saina bounced back from a game down to notch up a 15-21, 21-7, 21-17 win over Bae, ranked eighth.

It was a contest between two similar players, both of whom believe in grinding it out in the court and the match begun as expected with long rallies consisting of sharp angled drops and smashes. Saina didn’t shy away from attacking the nets and tried to dictate the rallies, pushing Bae to commit errors. The Indian girl’s game plan worked and she took a 10-4 lead.

The Korean grabbed two points at the nets and followed it up with a brilliant drop to narrow the gap. But soon Saina’s deceiving return found Bae napping and she led 11-8 at break.

Bae tightened her defence and dug deep in the rallies. She pushed the Indian to make mistakes, to not only clawed back at 14-14 but also win the game when Saina hit wide. In the second game, Saina once again lead 6-2 early on. She cut down on her smashes and tried to look for easy points. Bae played exceptional shots to narrow it down to 6-6, but the Korean also committed unforced errors to allow the Indian reel off five straight points and lead 11-6 at the interval. In the decider, Bae surged ahead to a lead of 5-1. Saina brought out her power smash to break the streak and then finished with a low lift at the net.

In a battle of attrition, Saina managed to open up a narrow lead of 15-13. The Korean hit one wide and Saina then grabbed another point to lead 17-13. The Korean made it 16-19.

Saina, however, didn’t delay the inevitable further as she produced two smashes to shut the door on the Korean.

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