Birmingham, March 7:
Leading Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal got the better of China’s former world champion Yihan Wang 21-19, 21-6 to march into the semifinals of the $500,000 All England Open Badminton Championships at the Barclaycard Arena here.
Olympic bronze medallist Saina was in her element from the beginning on Friday and never allowed Yihan to dictate the pace of the play in the 39-minute contest. With this win, the Indian World No.3 improved her career records against the Olympic silver medallist to 2-8.
The performance also helped the 24-year-old Saina to equalled her best showing at the prestigious Superseries event. Saina, who has entered the last four previously in 2010, however secured a statement-making victory against Yihan who she has most struggled to beat in her career. For a place in the final, Saina will meet World No.18 Sun Yu of China.
At the start, Yihan threatened to run away as she took a 6-2 lead. However, the Indian clawed her way back and equalised at 8-8. It was an neck-and-neck affair till 13-13. Afterwards, Saina came up with her vintage game to grab a five-point lead at 18-13. She moved well sharply within the court and more importantly, her defence was upto the task.
Even though, World No.5 Yihan fought back with three straight points, Saina managed to hold her nerves and sealed the first game 21-19.
In the second game, Saina upped the ante and took a 8-0 lead in no time, aided by regal cross-court smashes. Producing a volley of winners, Saina made it a cakewalk in the end with a 21-16 win.
“I’m happy with how I played. My strokes were good. We have had great fights in the past and I have a poor record against her so it’s unbelievable I was able to beat her with less than 10 points in the second game,” Nehwal said after the match.
On her prospects against Sun Yu, she said, “I wasn’t expecting to play tomorrow. It’s a big match and it won’t be easy. I will get some rest and think about that later.”
In the other semifinal, World champion Carolina Marin will face seventh seed Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei. IANS