Odense (Denmark): Defending champion Saina Nehwal of India crashed out of the Denmark Super Series Premier after suffering a shock three-game defeat at the hands of Korea`s Sung Ji Hyun in the quarterfinals of the women`s singles competition here on Friday.
The world number four Indian squandered a one-game lead and committed too many unforced errors to go down 21-13 18-21 19-21 to sixth seed Sung in a match that lasted an hour and six minutes.
Saina, who has a 4-0 record against Sung Ji Hyun before today`s match, had beaten the Korean in last year`s Indonesia Open but the past results did not count much as Sung matched the Indian with her strokes and stamina at the Odense Sports Park here.
In the opening game, Saina moved to a 4-1 lead early on but Sung soon turned the tables and managed a slender 11-10 lead at the break. The Indian got back into the lead with a flick of the wrist at the net and with the Korean making a series of unforced errors, Saina reached 15-11.
Saina hit long and then committed a judgement of error to help Sung narrow it to 13-15 but the Indian did not give Sung anymore leeway as she took 20-13 lead. Sung then faltered with a flick at the net to help the Indian pocket the opening game.
Playing on the other side of the court in the second game, Saina took a little time to judge the length of the shuttle initially which allowed Sung to have a 2-0 lead. But a drop and a lucky point at the net helped the Indian to make it 3-2.
Sung levelled the score at 6-6 with Saina making a few error in judging the shuttle. The Korean led 8-7 after the Indian hit long and then made it 10-8 with Saina`s hits going to the net and wide.
Saina, however, kept the pressure on the Korean and picked up three quick points with the help of better court coverage to lead 11-10 at the interval.
After the break, a long rally and a spectacular half smash helped Sung to take 12-11 lead. The Korean put Saina under pressure further by swelling the lead to 18-12 as Saina once again committed a series of unforced errors, hitting wide and long.
Saina snapped the Korean`s six-point lead with a brilliant placement and then engaged in rallies to make it 15-19. But once again, she hit long to give Sung five game points. Saina saved three game points but an error of judgement at the baseline helped the Korean to take the second game and bounce back into the contest.
Having grown in confidence after the second game, Sung fought tooth and nail with Saina to take a 5-3 lead in the decider. Though Saina drew parity at 5-5, the Indian found it difficult to deal with the Korean`s angled shots.
Leading 9-8, Saina slipped while returning a shot at the forecourt after a long rally which helped Sung to claw back at 9-9. However, Saina managed to held on to a 11-10 lead at the interval.
After the change of sides, Saina engaged in aggressive rallies and carved out a 16-13 lead with the help of some long smash and placement of shots. A couple of wide shots and a mistimed return from Saina helped Sung to once again claw back.
The duo engaged in aggressive rallies but Saina faltered at the nets to allow Sung take 19-17 lead. What came next is a long rally but an excellent deceptive push by Saina floored Sung at the forecourt corner to once again make it 19-19.
After that, Saina hit long and then struggled with her return as Sung won the match and celebrated her entry into the semifinals.