Saina loses to Xuerui in India Open semis

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.

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