New Delhi: Saina Nehwal suffered a tense three-game 8-21, 21-18, 19-21 defeat to Hong Kong's Cheung Ngan Yi thus on Friday thus denying PV Sindhu a possible mouth watering all-Indian Hong Kong Open semi-final clash.
Nehwal, 26, lost the match in one hour and 11 minutes, failing to make the knock-out stage of a Super Series tournament for the second successive time in two weeks. She lost to Porntip Buranaprasertsuk of Thailand in the first round of China Open, last week, which was won by her compatriot Sindhu.
After a below-par first games, Saina fought back to win the second, but her lack of movement proved detrimental in a match which required long ralliers and frequent change of pace. She lost the the keenly contested third game 19-21.
But the former world number one did produce glimpses of fighting spirit and class, almost forcing a duece in the decider. At point, Nehwal was trailing 11-18, but she won six straight points to close the gap to 17-18.
It was their second meeting, after last year's World Championships, which the Indian ace won 21-12, 21-19.
Earlier in the day, Sindhu survived an equally thrilling match against Xiaoyu Liang of Singapore in their quarter-final match. The Indian ace won the three-game match 21-17, 21-23, 21-18 in one hour and 18 minutes.
The China Open champion showed exemplary courage and confidence in her game to outlast the Singaporean girl despite playing catch-up in the most part of the deciding game. At point, Sindhu was trailing 9-15, but she won seven straight points from there to take a lead a point lead at 16-15.
She won another set of straight points, a three, to wrap up the match and book second Superseries semi-final berth in consecutive tournaments.
The two had previously met twice, with Sindhu winning both times, at 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games and the Asian Team Championships early this year at Hyderabad.
Tomorrow's semi-final could have seen the two Indians taking on each other in their second international face-off. But it was not to be. Nehwal beat Sindhu 21-14, 21-17 in the final of 2014 Syed Modi International in Lucknow.
But both the Indians are in contention for the year-end Super Series Finals, which will be held from December 14 to 18 in Dubai.
As of today, Sindhu is ranked ninth while her senior Indian compatriot is 11th, having slipped five places. However, in the race to Dubai, Sindhu (38,490) is ahead of Saina (38,080) by a few points and tomorrow's semi-final clash holds special importance.
In the other semi-final, world number Carolina Marin of Spain will play Tzu Ying Tai of Chinese Taipei in a repeat of China Open last-eight match. Both the players have straight game wins over their quarter-final rivals Akane Yamaguchi and Aya Ohori respectively.
Marin leads Tai 4-2 in head-to-head, but the 2016 Rio Olympics gold medallist lost to Tai in China last week.