Former World No 1 Saina Nehwal stayed on course for the women's singles title at the season-opening Malaysia Masters after she advanced to the semifinals of the $120,000 Grand Prix Gold badminton tournament here on Friday.
London Olympics bronze medallist Saina dished out a dominating show to edge past eighth seed IndonesianFitriani Fitriani 21-15 21-14 in a 40-minute contest. This was the Indian's third win over the World No. 40.
The top seeded Indian, who had clinched the Australian Open Super Series title last year, will face Hong Kong's Yip Pui Yin in the semifinals. Saina has a 6-2 head-to-head record against Yin, who had last beaten the Indian at 2010 Asian Games. In the men's singles, World No. 19 Ajay Jayaram found the going tough against Indonesia's Anthony Sinisuka Ginting, who beat the sixth seeded Indian 21-13 21-8 in just 28 minutes. This was Jayaram's third defeat to the Indonesian, having lost to him at Hyderabad Asia Team Championship and French Open as well.
Saina took her own time to get her bearing against Fitriani, who quickly opened up a 4-0 lead and consolidated her position to reach 11-6 lead at the interval.
However, the Indian soon started gathering points after the break and caught up with Fitriani at 12-12. Saina soon jumped to a 16-14 lead and then reeled off five straight points to pocket the opening game.
In the second game, Saina continued with her dominating show as she opened a 4-2 lead early on and then jumped to a 9-5 advantage before entering the breather at 11-6. Fitriani gave a fightback after the interval and narrowed down the gap to 12-13 but Saina soon marched ahead and sealed the match.