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

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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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