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Korea Open: Saina Nehwal crushes out after quarter-final defeat to Nozomi Okuhara


Ace Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal lost to former world champion Nozomi Okuhara of Japan in the quarterfinals to crash out of the USD 600,000 Korea Open in Seoul on Friday.

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The defeat also ended India’s campaign at the World Tour Super 500 tournament.

Fifth-seeded Saina went down 21-15 15-21 20-22 in an hour-long marathon match against the eighth-ranked Okuhara. It was also Saina’s third consecutive defeat against the Japanese.

The 10th ranked Indian led 6-3 on head-to-head count going into the quarter-finals encounter but fell behind 0-3 in the opening exchanges as Okuhara began with confidence.

But Saina, who won a gold at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, clawed back at 6-6 before racing to a slender 11-10 one point lead at the break. She then moved to 15-12 with five straight points and took another eight points to pocket the opening game 21-15.

Okuhara once again started well in the second game and surged to a 4-1 lead before Saina levelled it at 6-6. Both looked set not allowing another to breakthrough. But the World No.8 Okuhara broke off to make it 14-9 with a sudden burst from being 8-8 at one stage.

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The Japanese made most of the led to take the game into a decider with a 21-15 victory in the second set.

Saina was much better in the decider, taking a 4-1 lead against a resurgent Okuhara, who put everything to decrease the deficit to just one point 10-11 at the break.

The Indian clinched five straight points to once again increase the gap to 16-10 and took another four to stand one point away from the semi-finals.

But Okuhara replied with six points on the trot to seal the set and with it the game.

Saina had reached the finals of the Indonesia Masters and also won a bronze at the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta.

Image Credit: DNA India

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