Olympic silver-medallist P V Sindhu entered the semifinals of the Hong Kong Super Series after posting a hard-fought victory over Singapore’s Xiaoyu Liang even as Saina Nehwal bowed out here on Friday.
Had the former World No. 1 and London Olympics bronze medallist Saina won her match, she would have met Sindhu in an all Indian battle in the semifinals.
The only time Saina and Sindhu clashed at the international circuit was at the 2014 India Grand Prix gold tournament and it was the senior shuttler who had the last laugh in a two-game match.
Earlier on Friday, Sindhu, who clinched the China Open last week, staved off a stiff challenge from Xiaoyu Liang 21-17 21-23 21-18 in a quarterfinal match that lasted an hour and 19 minutes at the Hong Kong Coliseum. Fifth-seeded Saina, meanwhile, failed to cross the hurdle as she was stunned by unseeded local shuttler Cheung Ngan Yi 8-21 21-18 19-21 in a contest that lasted an hour and 11 minutes. Saina, who is on a comeback trail after recovering from a serious knee injury, lost the first game 8-21 in just 12 minutes, but fought back superbly to win the second game 21-18.
The third game saw Saina take a quick 7-3 lead. But local favourite Cheung then won five straight points to make it level at 9-9. The change of ends advantage went to Cheung with a 11-10 lead. Cheung slipped, dived, got up and won an incredible rally to take a 13-11 lead and was just three points away from winning the match when Saina won six straight points to reduce the deficit to 17-18.
But Cheung fought her way back in the match and egged on by the crowd, won the third game 21-19 to emerge victorious.