Top seed Saina Nehwal and B Sai Praneeth crashed out in their respective quarterfinal matches to draw curtains on India’s challenge at the the Macau Open Grand Prix Gold badminton tournament, here on Friday.
Both Saina and Sai Praneeth suffered straight-game losses against Chinese opponents in the women’s and men’s singles quarterfinals respectively.
Former World No.1 Saina, who is slowly trying to come back to her best after recovering from a major knee injury which affected her Olympic campaign, found the going tough on Friday, going down 17-21 17-21 lower-ranked Zhang Yiman of China in the women’s singles quarterfinal in a 35-minute clash.
Later in the day Sai Praneeth toiled hard for half an hour before losing 19-21 9-21 to Jun Peng Zhao.
Saina, who improved a place on Thursday in the world rankings to be at number 10, seemed to have been affected by the gruelling three-game matches that she played in the last two rounds here. 19-year-old Zhang, who is ranked at World No. 226, took the early 4-2 lead and then held a slender 9-8 at one stage.
The young Chinese soon reeled off five straight points to jump to a 14-8 lead and kept marching ahead as Saina lost the opening game. Saina, who had bounced back after losing the opening game in the last two matches, seemed to have changed gears as she zoomed to a 6-0 healthy lead in the second game. But Zhang came back to level the score 7-7 and surpassed her fancied rival, reaching 11-9 at the break. Saina erased the deficit after the interval with two points but the Chinese managed to grab a 14-12 advantage and then jumped to 19-12 lead. The Indian picked up four points to narrow the gap but Zhang soon surged to seal the game and the match in her favour.