Li Xuerui beats defending champion Saina Nehwal in India Open Semis

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China's Li Xuerui celebrates after victory in her women's singles semi-final match against India's Saina Nehwal at the 2016 India Open. (photo: GettyImages)

New Delhi: The 2012 Olympic champion Li Xuerui gained another psychological edge against India’s top women’s shuttler Saina Nehwal on Saturday as she recorded a 22-20, 17-21, 21-19 hard fought victory in the India Open semi-finals.China's Li Xuerui celebrates after victory in her women's singles semi-final match against India's Saina Nehwal at the 2016 India Open. (photo: GettyImages)

The New Delhi crowd was heavily in favor of Nehwal on Saturday, but Nehwal squandered a 13-7, 14-8 lead in the decider, giving the World No. 2 Li Xuerui chances of climbing back to eventually claim the match in 72 minutes.

Back in April 2010, at the same venue, 19-year-old Li Xuerui played as a qualifier in the Asian championship shocked Saina Nehwal 21-17, 21-11 on way to the title. Her victory on Saturday has extended her domination over the sixth-ranked Saina with an 11th victory in 13 encounters.

“I tried my best and I am glad I won the match. Saina could have been under a lot of pressure in front of home crowd,” said Li Xuerui.

Li will play former World champion No. 4 seed Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand in the final. The Thai shuttler dismantled the taller Korean left-hander Bae Yeon Ju in 21-8, 21-11 in 36 minutes.

The Japanese camp has great success in the women’s doubles semi-finals as defending champions Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi edged past Indonesia’s Greysia Polii and Nitya Krishinda Maheswari 21-18, 19-21, 23-21 in a high quality battle. One rally in the second set even lasted a remarkable 118 shots.

Meanwhile, Naoko Fukuman and Kurumi Yonao saw off Denmark’s Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl 14-21, 22-20, 21-17 to set up an all-Japanese final on Sunday.

The India Open semi-finals results:

Men’s Singles: 5-Victor Axelsen (Den) bt Son Wan Ho (Kor) 21-11, 21-11; 2-Kento Momota (Jpn) bt Xue Song (Chn) 17-21, 3-6 (retd.).

Men’s Doubles: Gideon Markus Fernaldi & Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo (Ina) bt V. Shem Goh & Wee Kiong Tan (Mal) 21-15, 21-17; 7-Annga Pratama & Ricky Karanda Suwardi (Ina) bt Ko Sung Hyun & Shin Baek Cheol (Kor) 21-18, 6-21, 21-19.

Women’s Singles: 4-Ratchnok Intanon (Tha) bt Bae Yeon Yu (Kor) 21-8, 21-11; 3-Li Xuerui (Chn) bt 2-Saina Nehwal 22-20, 17-21, 21-19.

Women’s Doubles: 3-Misaki Matsutomo & Ayaka Takahashi (Jpn) bt 1-Nitya Krishinda Maheswari & Greysia Polii (Ina) 21-18, 19-21, 23-21; Naoko Fukuman & Kurumi Yonao (Jpn) bt 2-Christina Pedersen & Kamilla Rytter Juhl (Den) 14-21, 22-20, 21-17.

Mixed doubles: Riky Widianto & Puspita Richi Dili (Ina) bt Bodin Issara & Savitree Amitrapai (Tha) 21-18, 13-21, 21-7; 7-Lu Kai & Huang Yaqiong (Chn) bt 2-Ko Sung Hyun & Kim Ha Na (Kor) 21-17, 17-21, 21-18.

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