India’s star shuttler Saina Nehwal sailed into the women’s singles quarterfinals but another medal hope, Kidambi Srikanth, crashed out of the World Championships after suffering a straight-game loss on Thursday.
Saina, who had clinched a silver and a bronze at the 2015 and 2017 editions, downed 2013 champion Ratchanok Inthanon of Thailand 21-16 21-19 to set up a meeting with Olympic champion and two-time world champion Carolina Marin of Spain.
The Indian mixed doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Ashwini Ponnappa also stood one step away from a medal after pulling off a stunning 20-22 21-14 21-6 victory over the Malaysian world no.7 combination of Goh Soon Huat and Shevon Jemie Lai.
However, fifth seed Srikanth’s dream of winning a medal came crashing after he was outwitted 18-21 18-21 by the experienced Malaysian Daren Liew in a 41-minute clash.
“I had my chances but couldn’t keep the shuttle in. Too many smashes out, too many mistakes. I should have handled it much better,” said Srikanth.
Saina showed amazing retrieving skills against Inthanon, who is on a comeback trail after recovering from an injury.
“It is a very good win. She is known for a deceptive game. Second game was going my way, but suddenly she played some difficult strokes, she was everywhere and made it 19-19. At that point, Gopi sir played a big role. He told me what to do and I followed that and the game turned in my favour,” Saina said.
“Pressure is less on me now because the last few tournaments I haven’t been able to cross the quarterfinals but I have played well at the Commonwealth Games and Asian Championship. But I can see that the form sometimes goes here and there but I am happy it is coming back in important events.”
Talking about her next match against Marin, Saina said: “I have played her at Denmark Open last, she is quick and aggressive and it would be a challenging match for me and I will just look to give my best.”
Earlier, Ashwini and Satwik showed great composure as they recovered from a game down to prevail over their higher ranked opponents.
It was an even battle in the opening game where the Malaysian pair managed an 11-8 lead at the break and though Ashwini and Satwik clawed back at 14-14 and even held a slender 18-16 lead at one stage, their rivals were more composed to pocket the game.
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In the second game, Goh and Shevon opened up a 5-2 lead but this time Ashwini and Satwik drew parity at 9-9 and then broke off to bounce back into the contest.
In the decider, the Indian pair was brilliant as it aggressively dominated the proceedings. They led 11-4 at the interval and continued in the same vein after the breather to storm into the quarters.