Saina crashes out of All England

New Delhi: Top Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal suffered a straight-game defeat to Xuerui LI of China in the women`s singles quarterfinals to crash out of the All England Championship at Birmingham on Friday.

The world number four Indian lost 13-21, 21-23 to the seventh seeded Chinese in a 40-minute match at the National Indoor Arena.

Saina couldn`t match Li in the first game as she failed to retrieve quite a few shots at the forecourt and most of her pushes and smashes went to the net.

The Indian also failed to read the conditions and fell prey to the drift as she made quite a few judgement error.

Li, on the other hand, played an aggressive game and her strokes were more accurate. The world number 5 Chinese opened up a narrow 2-0 lead and went into the break with at 11-8.

After the breather, things didn`t change much as Li reeled off seven straight points to create a huge gap which Saina failed to bridge.

After a pep-talk with India coach Pullela Gopichand during the break, Saina started the second game on a positive note and slowed down the game and engaged Li in long rallies to moved to a 4-2 lead.

But the Indian lost a couple of points due to unforced errors and was also unlucky once to be at the receiving end of an umpiring decision as Li moved from 6-6 to 9-9 before going into the break at 11-9 with the help of some good cross-court smashes and half smashes.

After the break, Saina won a long rally to level at 12-all. Both the shuttlers played an array of strokes but the Chinese was more accurate and deceptive as she moved ahead to 16-13.

The sideway drift saw both the players succumbing to some unforced errors, but Li had her nose ahead at 19-17 and with Saina hitting out once again, the Chinese went up to 20-17 for match point.

Pushed to the wall, Saina not only saved three match points but also grabbed the lead at 21-20. However, the Chinese wrested control and led 22-21 and then won a long rally to eventually seal the match.

Saina had beaten Hongyan Pi of France 21-10, 21-17 on Thursday to reach the quarterfinals. She had reached the quarters in the last edition as well.

The 21-year-old from Hyderabad had reached the semifinals of the All England in 2010, her dream year, where she had won three Super Series titles -- Singapore, Indonesia and Hong Kong -- beside the Commonwealth Games gold medal.


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