Bangalore: Former World No. 1 women’s singles player Saina Nehwal lifted Awadhe Warriors to become the first team to reach the 2017 Premier Badminton League semi-finals on Monday.
The tie between Nehwal’s Awadhe Warriors team and Bengaluru Blasters got off to a shaky start where Awadhe Warriors’ Vincent Wong Wing Ki squandered a decent lead in the opening game of the first men’s singles by going down 11-13 to Sourabh Verma. With lot at stake, Verma did not slow down in the second set, and eventually ran away with 11-7 second set victory to give Bengaluru Blasters a 1-0 lead.
In the second match of the tie, Awadhe Warriors’ Savitree Amitrapai and Bodin Isara levelled the score to 1-1 by outlasting Sung Hyun Ho and Sikki Reddy of the Bengaluru Blasters 11-9, 4-11, 11-5 in the mixed doubles event.
Continuing the momentum from Savitree Amitrapai and Bodin Isara’s victory, Kidambi Srikanth was faster out the blocks to shock World No. 3 Axelsen 11-9, 11-9 in the second men’s singles match to give Awadhe Warriors a 2-1 lead.
The current World No. 10 women’s singles player managed to close out her match against Cheung Ngan Yi of Bengaluru Blasters, but it was not without a fight as Nehwal fought from dropping a set to overcome Cheung 9-11, 11-5, 11-5, grabbing the critical two points in Awadhe Warriors’ ‘Trump match’ to make it 4-1.
Even though Ko Sung Hyun/Yoo Yeon Seong of Bengaluru Blasters were able to edge past Awadhe Warriors’ Goh V Shem/Markis Kido 6-11, 11-9, 11-6 in the men’s doubles and also Blasters’ ‘Trump match’, but their victory was not enough to reverse the overall results as Awadhe Warriors beat Bengaluru Blasters 4-3 to become the first team to seal the semifinals spot in the 2017 PBL.