Saina stuns Bing Jiao to join Sindhu, Prannoy in quarterfinals of Singapore Open – SportsMediaz


Olympic bronze medallist Saina Nehwal showed signs of regaining her form with a sensational win over Chinese world number 9 He Bing Jiao in the Singapore Open on Thursday.

The two-time Commonwealth Games gold winner joined compatriots PV Sindhu and HS Prannoy in the quarterfinals of the tournament.

Saina, a London Olympics bronze medallist, prevailed 21-19 11-21 21-17 over the fifth seeded Chinese to make the last eight stage. It will be her first appearance in quarterfinals of a Super 500 event in over two and a half years.

She will meet Japan’s Aya Ohori next.

The 32-year-old from Hyderabad has been battling a series of injuries and lack of form in the past few years, which forced her to skip the selection trials for the Commonwealth Games, in April.

In the last three years, Saina’s best performance had been a semifinal finish at Orleans Master Super 100 last year. She had also reached the quarterfinal stage at Malaysia Masters and Barcelona Spain Masters in 2020.

Two-time Olympic medallist Sindhu and in-form Prannoy also stormed into the quarterfinals after registering fighting wins.

Third seed Sindhu staved off a spirited challenge from Vietnam’s world number 59 Thuy Linh Nguyen 19-21 21-19 21-18 in the women’s singles competition to set up a clash with China’s Han Yue.

Prannoy, ranked world number 19, notched up his second win in three weeks over world number four and third seed Chou Tien Chen of Chinese Taipei 14-21 22-20 21-18 in an hour and nine minute contest.

The 29-year-old Indian, who is looking to break his five-year-old title drought, will face Japan’s Kodai Naraoka next.

The men’s doubles pairing of MR Arjun and Dhruv Kapila also entered the quarters, with a stunning 18-21 24-22 21-18 win over sixth seeded Malaysian combination of Goh Sze Fei and Nur Izzuddin.

A day after notching up an unset win over compatriot Kidambi Srikanth, Mithun Manjunath’s run ended with a fighting 10-21 21-18 16-21 loss to Ireland’s Nhat Nguyen.

Ashmita Chaliha, who had defeated Thailand’s Busanan Ongbamrungphan, also couldn’t proceed further in the tournament, losing 9-21 13-21 to Han Yue of China.

The highlight of the day was Saina’s thrilling victory over Bing Jiao, a two-time World championship bronze medallist, whom the Indian had defeated in their only meeting way back in 2019.

Saina’s trademark cross court smashes and drops were on full display as she put up a good show at the Singapore Indoor Stadium here.

Left-handed Bing Jiao however seemed too erratic, struggling with the lengths of the shuttles as her miscued shots went wide and long and also got buried at the net, allowing Saina to gather points.

It was a shot going to the net which had handed Saina a slender 11-10 advantage at the first mid-game interval.

The Chinese’s attempt to play at a high pace only led to more errors as Saina moved to 17-13. Three unforced errors from Saina allowed Bingjiao to level par at 19-19 but the Indian next unleashed to powerful returns to nose ahead.

In the second game, Bing Jiao used the court better to put the shuttle in difficult positions for Saina, who also committed a lot of unforced errors.

At the break, Bing Jiao was 11-6 up after Saina missed a shot at the baseline. With the Chinese dominating the rallies, it turned into a lop-sided game as Bing Jiao made a superb comeback.

Saina played more angled returns and strengthen her defence to jump to a 6-1 lead in the decider before entering the break with a healthy six-point advantage.

The lead, however, was quickly reduced by Bing Jiao after resumption. Saina then tried to pin the Chinese at the baseline with a flurry of returns on her rival’s forehand and also used the body smashes to good effect.

Saina grabbed five match points after Bing Jiao’s forehand went to the net. She squandered two points before lifting her arms to the sky in celebration once the Chinese hit wide.

In men’s singles, Chou Chen Tien managed to grab healthy leads during the breaks in all the three games but struggled in the second half with Prannoy scripting superb comebacks twice to outwit the Taiwanese.

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