Sydney: Ace shuttler Saina Nehwal notched up a hard-fought three-game win over China’s Sun Yu to emerge as the lone Indian survivor in Australian Open Super Series badminton tournament on Thursday.
World No. 1 Saina continued her rampaging run in world badminton and staved off a challenge from Sun, ranked 9th, 21-19 19-21 21-14 in a match that lasted an hour and 18 minutes in the women’s singles competition.
Saina, who had beaten Sun thrice in the last four meetings, came out with a well-thought strategy as she broke off at 5-5 and entered the interval with a 11-6 lead.
Sun played better after the interval to slowly narrow the gap before clawing back at 18-18, but a determined Saina zoomed ahead to pocket the opening game.
The Indian could have wrapped up the match in the second game itself as she had a huge six-point lead at 13-7 but Sun almost snatched the lead away after levelling the score at 13-13.
An alert Saina held her nerves and moved to 18-15 but she could not stop a fighting Sun, who roared back into the contest with a three-point burst from 18-19 behind.
In the decider, Saina didn’t allow Sun to threaten her in anyway as she led from the start and at one stage was comfortably placed at 12-4.
Though the Chinese tried to erase the deficit, Saina made sure there was no more hiccups and eventually sealed the issue in her favour.
The Olympic bronze medallist will next take on two-time All England champion Shixian Wang, against whom Saina has a close 6-5 record in 11 meetings.
World no. 4 Kidambi Srikanth bowed out of the USD 750,000 Australian Open Superseries after losing his second round match to unseeded Chinese Tian Houwei. The Indian shuttler lost 21-18, 17-21, 13-21.
Meanwhile, India’s women’s doubles pair, Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa were also ousted as they lost in straight games to Indonesians Nitya Krishinda Maheswari and Greysia Polii at the Sydney Olympic Park.
The fourth seeds beat Jwala and Ashwini 21-14, 21-10 in 32 minutes in the women’s doubles second round to proceed to the quarter-finals.