New Delhi: Indian ace Saina Nehwal survived a mighty scare from unheralded Ayane Kurihara of Japan before advancing to the quarterfinals of China Masters Super Series badminton tournament in Changzhou on Thursday.
The fifth seed Indian saw off unseeded Kurihara 21-11, 18-21, 27-25 in a marathon women`s singles encounter that lasted for one hour and 12 minutes at the Xincheng Gymnasium. She will next take on top seed Chinese Yihan Wang on Friday.
V Diju and Jwala Gutta also notched up a 21-19, 21-17 win over Yong Dae Lee and Jung Eun Ha of Korea in a 34-minute second round clash in the mixed doubles competition.
The Indian duo will next take on Robert Blair of Scotland and English Gabrielle White in the quarterfinals on Friday. However, Parupalli Kashyap was not as lucky as he ran into second seed Dane Peter Hoeg Gade and lost 21-18, 21-15 in 45 minutes in the men`s singles.
India`s top men`s doubles pair of Rupesh Kumar and Sanave Thomas also could not cross the second round hurdle and suffered a 13-21, 9-21 loss to fourth seeds Sung Hyun Ko and Yeon Seong Yoo of Korea in just 24 minutes.
World number five Saina relied on her powerful smashes, while Kurihara, ranked 27th, played better at nets but it was the Indian who had the last laugh in a battle of attrition.
In the first game, the Indian did not give any chance to the Japanese and broke off from 4-all to go 1-0 in the match.
However, Kurihara was not the one to go down without a fight as she opened up a 10-5 lead in the second game and although Saina drew parity at 12-12, the Japanese held her fort to bounce back in style.
Leading 11-5 in the decider, Saina suddenly allowed Kurihara to register five straight points to narrow the gap. From there on, the match turned out to be an intense contest as neither of the two conceded an inch and both engaged in a tooth and nail battle before Saina closed the issue with two straight points.