BIRMINGHAM: Top Indian shuttlers Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth had to toil hard to seal their places in the quarterfinals of the USD 1 million All England Championships here Thursday.
While Saina rallied her way to a 8-21 21-16 21-13 win over Denmark's Line Hjmark Kjaersfeldt in a 51-minute contest, seventh seed Srikanth recovered from a mid-game slump to register a 21-17 11-21 21-12 win over Asian Games champion Jonatan Christie, his first victory over the Indonesian in the last three meetings.
Eighth seeded Saina is expected to take on her nemesis and two-time champion Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei, an opponent who defeated her in last 12 outings, while the 26-year-old Srikanth will face world no 1 Kento Momota of Japan, who has beaten the Indian five times last season.
A 2015 finalist, Saina was blown away by world no 19 Line in the opening game but the experienced campaigner kept her cool to take the match to the decider and eventually come up trumps against her Danish rival.
"She's a very good player and she fights right until the end. In this tournament I've not felt very well from the start as I've been suffering with diarrhoea but I'm just going on with that," said Saina, who had defeated Scotland's Kristy Gilmour 21-17 21-18 in her opening match.
"In the first set I felt like I was not able to move as I was feeling really heavy and sluggish. In the second and third set I warmed up a bit more and got into the rhythm. I tried to catch her out as much as possible but it was not easy at all with the condition I'm in."
On her possible clash with Tzu Ying, Saina said: "That will be a very tricky match. She is an excellent opponent, she's very good at deception and can catch you out with well disguised set-plays. It's not easy to play against someone who has such an arsenal of great shots. As I say though, I will try my best."
In other matches, former Singapore Open champion B Sai Praneeth's fight lasted just 35 minutes as he went down 12-21 17-21 to 24-year-old Ng Ka Long Angus in the second round. It was his third loss to the World no 15 from Hong Kong.
On Wednesday, Sameer Verma squandered a first game advantage to go down fighting 21-16 18-21 14-21 to former world champion and world no 1 Viktor Axelsen of Denmark to bow out of the tournament.
The women's doubles pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy fought a gruelling battle before losing 21-16 26-28 16-21 to seventh seeded Japanese pair of Shiho Tanaka and Koharu Yonemoto.
Sikki and Pranaav Jerry Chopra, who is coming back from an injury, lost 21-23 17-21 to Hong King's Chang Tak Ching and NG Wing Yung in the mixed doubles.
The men's doubles pair of Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy also lost 19-21 21-16 14-21 to the Chinese combination of Ou Xuanyi and Ren Xiangyu.
Srikanth, who had disposed off France's Brice Leverdez 21-13 21-11 in the opening round, came into the second-round match with a 2-3 head-to-head record against Jonatan.
Srikanth lead 5-0 lead initially. Jonatan tried to dominate the net and narrowed the led to 5-7 before the Indian rode on his deception and a couple of angled returns to grab 11-7 advantage at the break.
Srikanth's tricky play kept Jonatan on his feet as he moved to 19-15 with two smashes and went to game point when his rival hit long. Two game points were saved by the Indonesian before the Indian unleashed a smash to grab the bragging rights.
In the second game, Jonatan injected more pace in the rallies and grabbed the first six points. Srikanth was left to do the catch up act as Jonatan opened up a 11-6 lead at the breather and eventually took the match to the decider after converting nine game point opportunities.
In the third game, Srikanth added more power to his strokes while Jonatan committed simple errors to trail 2-7. Jonatan then took a medical timeout due to a problem in his left foot.
On resumption, the Indian grabbed a 11-4 advantage at the interval. Srikanth didn't allow the game to slip away after the interval even as Jonatan crumbled.