Kuala Lumpur: Olympic bronze medallist Saina Nehwal survived a scare from lower-ranked Japanese Nozomi Okuhara before advancing to the semifinals of the Malaysian Super Series in the women`s singles competition here on Friday.
The top seed Saina dropped a game after having an early advantage but with Nozomi retiring early on in the third game, the Indian cemented her place into the last four stage with a 21-11 14-21 2-0 win in a 43-minute contest.
She will next take on the winner between two-time All England champion Tine Baun and sixth seed Tzu Ying Tai of Chinese Taipei on Saturday.
The Hyderabadi girl dominated the proceedings from the very beginning. After opening up a 3-0 lead, she not only maintained it but also slowly and steadily widened the gap to take a 1-0 lead in the match.
In the second game, however, Nozomi got her act together and gave Saina a taste of her own medicine as she zoomed to a 9-1 lead and eventually made it 14-1 as Saina`s game crumbled.
The Indian tried to narrow the gap but it was too much of a gulf to bridge.
In the decider though, Nozomi retired due to a troubled knee while she was lagging 0-2, to hand over a victory to Saina.