Indian campaign ends at Dubai BWF World Super Series Finals; Saina, Srikanth suffer contrasting defeats
Saina won the first game with relative ease, but failed to keep up the pace and lose the match in 51 minutes.
New Delhi: Indian ace Saina Nehwal on Friday failed to convert her impressive start and lost her final group match of BWF World Super Series Finals in Dubai to Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei in three gruelling sets 21-16, 16-21, 14-21.
With the defeat, the Indian campaign ended at the season ending tournament with Kidambi Srikanth also exited from the men's singles competition earlier in the day. The 22-year-old from Guntur lost in straight sets 17-21, 13-21 to Chou Tien Chen of China.
From the Group A in the women's singles, undefeated Nozomi Okuhara and Carolina Marin enter the semi-finals. The World Champion from Spain, who lost to Saina yesterday in a thriller, finished second in the group thanks to a better game win count.
In the final group game, the 25-year-old Indian won the first game with relative ease, but failed to keep up the pace and lose the match in 51 minutes.
Serving first, the Indian got off to a cautious start losing the second point. Then, thanks to a couple of unforced errors on the net, world number 2 gained a 5-2 lead, only to see her Chinese Taipei opponent catch-up 5-5.
The first game, then, witnessed a humdinger of a tussle with service changing every other or second point. And from a 8-6 lead, Nehwal allowed her opponent to take the lead for the first time, 8-9.
With a vociferous and partisan crowd of Indian diaspora cheering for Saina, the Olympic medallist successfully forced Tai Tzu Ying to make a series of errors and take a 14-10 lead.
Carrying her imperious form from yesterday's win over world champion Carolina Marin, Saina raced to 19-11. But after conceding a series game points, Saina finally won the game 21-16 in 15 minutes.
The game witnessed both players executing some excruciatingly close net play, besides engaging in teasing relays.
Unlike in the first game, wherein both the players tried to cox each other with plenty of deceptive shots, they engaged in a fast pace game in the second.
The Chinese Taipei enjoyed a close lead in the early stage of the game, leading 7-4 at one time, and probably for a twist in the tale. The gap was then extended to 9-4, then to 11-5, then a five point gap of 14-9.
And there, it looked like Tai Tzu Ying will get better of the Indian, like last year's semi-final in which the Chinese Taipei player won the match 11-21, 21-13, 21-9.
But, the Indian suddenly showed her real prowess winning the next five points, and both players took a much needed break at 15-16 with Tai Tzu Ying.
Then, with a costly unforced error from her opponent, Nehwal drew level at 16-16 after trailing eight points at one time.
Tai Tzu Ying raced to 20-16, but Saina saved two game points, before finishing with an easy block at the net, to win the game 21-18.
The deciding set started with Nehwal trailing 1-4, before winning two back-to-back points. But Saina's occasional winners were far and few to disturb Tai Tzu Ying's flow. The gap widened to five, with Nehwal on 5.
There seemed to be a fight-back from the Indian but a meaner and fitter Tai Tzu Ying cut short Saina's rear-guard action, every time it threatened to alter the course.
Saina did managed reduce the gap, thanks to a series of unforced errors from her opponent. Then, at 13-18. the world number five sent her service long, but that failed to hamper her bid, winning the game 21-14.
However, in the men's singles Indian hope Kidambi Srikanth lost for the third time, with a straight sets 17-21, 13-21 humbling from Chou Tien Chen of China. With that world number 8 Indian's campaign also ended.
Srikanth had previously lost to Kento Momota of Japan 13-21, 21-13 and Viktor Axelsen of Denmark in 13-21, 18-21.
In the four-man group, the young Indian finished without a point.