Singapore Open 2022: Saina Nehwal stuns Bing Jiao to join PV Sindhu, HS Prannoy in quarterfinals

India’s top shuttlers Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu and HS Prannoy reached the quarter-finals of the BWF Singapore Open, a Super 500 series tournament on Thursday.

Saina, a London Olympics bronze medallist, prevailed 21-19 11-21 21-17 over the fifth-seeded Chinese to make the last eight stage. It will be her first appearance in the quarterfinals of a Super 500 event in over two and a half years.

She will meet Japan’s Aya Ohori next.

The 32-year-old from Hyderabad has been battling a series of injuries and lack of form in the past few years, which forced her to skip the selection trials for the Commonwealth Games in April.

In the last three years, Saina’s best performance has been a semifinal finish at Orleans Master Super 100 last year. She has also reached the quarterfinal stage at the Malaysia Masters and Barcelona Spain Masters in 2020.

Two-time Olympic medallist Sindhu and in-form Prannoy also stormed into the quarterfinals after registering fighting wins.

Third seed Sindhu staved off a spirited challenge from Vietnam’s world number 59 Thuy Linh Nguyen 19-21 21-19 21-18 in the women’s singles competition to set up a clash with China’s Han Yue.

Prannoy, ranked world number 19, notched up his second win in three weeks over world number four and third seed Chou Tien Chen of Chinese Taipei 14-21 22-20 21-18 in an hour and nine-minute contest.

The 29-year-old Indian, who is looking to break his five-year-old title drought, will face Japan’s Kodai Naraoka next.

The men’s doubles pairing of MR Arjun and Dhruv Kapila also entered the quarters, with a stunning 18-21 24-22 21-18 win over the sixth-seeded Malaysian combination of Goh Sze Fei and Nur Izzuddin.

A day after notching up an upset win over compatriot Kidambi Srikanth, Mithun Manjunath’s run ended with a fighting 10-21 21-18 16-21 loss to Ireland’s Nhat Nguyen.

Ashmita Chaliha, who had defeated Thailand’s Busanan Ongbamrungphan, also couldn’t proceed further in the tournament, losing 9-21 13-21 to Han Yue of China.

The highlight of the day was Saina’s thrilling victory over Bing Jiao, a two-time World championship bronze medallist, whom the Indian had defeated in their only meeting way back in 2019.

Saina’s trademark cross-court smashes and drops were on full display as she put up a good show at the Singapore Indoor Stadium here.

Left-handed Bing Jiao however, seemed too erratic, struggling with the lengths of the shuttles as her miscued shots went wide and long and also got buried in the net, allowing Saina to gather points.

It was a shot going to the net which had handed Saina a slender 11-10 advantage at the first mid-game interval.

The Chinese’s attempt to play at a high pace only led to more errors as Saina moved to 17-13. Three unforced errors from Saina allowed Bingjiao to level par at 19-19 but the Indian next unleashed to powerful returns to nose ahead.

In the second game, Bing Jiao used the court better to put the shuttle in difficult positions for Saina, who also committed a lot of unforced errors.

At the break, Bing Jiao was 11-6 up after Saina missed a shot at the baseline. With the Chinese dominating the rallies, it turned into a lop-sided game as Bing Jiao made a superb comeback.

Saina played more angled returns and strengthened her defense to jump to a 6-1 lead in the decider before entering the break with a healthy six-point advantage.

The lead, however, was quickly reduced by Bing Jiao after the resumption. Saina then tried to pin the Chinese at the baseline with a flurry of returns on her rival’s forehand and also used the body smashes to good effect.

Saina grabbed five match points after Bing Jiao’s forehand went to the net. She squandered two points before lifting her arms to the sky in celebration once the Chinese hit wide.

In men’s singles, Chou Chen Tien managed to grab healthy leads during the breaks in all three games but struggled in the second half with Prannoy scripting superb comebacks twice to outwit the Taiwanese.

— ENDS —

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