Ace Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal overcame world number two Akane Yamaguchi of Japan to advance into the quarterfinals of the USD 7,75,000 Denmark Open in Odense, on Thursday.
The 23-year-old pulled off a shocker after beating Yamaguchi in straight sets and without much difficulty. Saina won 21-15, 21-17 to progress and will next take on another Japanese Nozomi Okuhara in the quarters.
It was Nehwal’s only second victory over the Japanese and first after six consecutive defeats. She had last beaten Yamaguchi during the China Open in 2014 before the easy victory here.
Yamaguchi, who had comfortably displaced Nehwal in the earlier two meetings this year, once again looked set for a victory. She took an initial 4-0 lead, but the World No.10 fought back to make it 10-10 at one stage.
From there Nehwal won five consecutive points to increase her lead to 15-10 and then further widened the gap with four more points to be just two points away from pocketing the first game at 19-12.
The Japanese showed a brief recovery to make it 20-15 but it was too far a battle and Saina took the next point at the net to win the first game 21-15.
In the second, Saina took the initial lead and surged to 7-2 but the second seed Yamaguchi came back to level the game at 11-11. What followed next was an intense battle with neither allowing much space to the other. They went one after another till 17-17 but just as Yamaguchi looked for her resurgence, Nehwal clinched four consecutive breaks to win the second game 21-17 and with a victory in straight sets.
In the men’s category, Kidambi Srikanth and Sameer Verma are scheduled to play later in the day. Srikanth will face legendary Chinese shuttler, Lin Dan, while Verma will square-off against Asian Games gold-medallist Jonathan Christie.
Image Source: DNA India