New Delhi: Indian badminton ace Saina Nehwal suffered a shock defeat to Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand in the quarter-finals of 2015 French Open Super Series women’s singles event in Paris on Friday.
The 2012 finalist lost the match 9-21, 15-21 in straight sets in 39 minutes to the eighth-seeded player. A series of unforced errors and below par net play proved detrimental for the World no. 2 in her bid to win her maiden French Open title. Out of the total 66 points played, Saina won 24. With that, Indian challenge at the tournament also ended.
Nehwal, 25, lost the error-strewn first game 9-21, with her Thai opponent dictating the pace of the play. At one point, she was trailing by 12 points, at 6-18. The Indian shuttler somehow produced a strong cross-court smash to win a point at 7-18. The game ended with Saina sending long her return.
The second game too started in the similar fashion with Intanon taking a quick four point lead to love. Saina won her first point with an unforced error from her opponent at the net, but soon lost the next point failing to return a smash.
Trailing 5-11 in the second game, Saina won three points in succession to make it 8-11, but Intanon once again raced to a five point lead at 9-15. The Thai girl maintained the lead until the end, and won the game 21-15.
In their ten meetings so far, only two matches have been decided in three sets with Nehwal winning both, in Thailand (2012) and Malaysia (2009). But today, Nehwal seemed to have no answer to the all-round game from her opponent. Now, their overall head-to-head record stands 6-4, in favour of the Indian.
In the previous round, the Hyderabadi girl defeated Minatsu Mitani of Japan 21-19, 21-16 in a revenge of 2012 final, which she lost in straight sets 19-21, 11-21.
In the semi-finals, Intanon will play the winner between fourth-seed Wang Shixian of China and Nozomi Okuhara of Japan.
Fifth-seeded and Olympic Champion Li Xuerui of China — who beat PV Sindhu in the Denmark Open final on Sunday — takes on third seed Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei.
New World number one and reigning back-to-back World champion Carolina Marin of Spain faces Indonesian Maria Febe Kusumastuti in the last quarter-final later in the day.