It was a day of contrasting fortunes for world No 1 Saina Nehwal of India and world champion Carolina Marin of Spain in the women’s semi-finals of the Maybank Malaysian Open Super Series Premier at the Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur today.
While Carolina marched into her first ever final on Malaysian soil with a straight set 21-17, 24-22 victory over No 2 seed and former World No 1 Wang Shixian of China, it was a heartbreaking three-set defeat for reigning world No 1 Saina who lost 21-13, 17-21, 20-22 to China;s Li Xuerui, the top seed.
“I am enjoying a fantastic run here but it was not an easy match against Shixian. She (Shixian) had a marathon quarter-final match but she came out fighting again. I took advantage of her tiredness to win. This is my first final in Malaysia and I hope to take the title,” said Carolina, 20 who is also the reigning All-England champion.
The Saina-Xuerei duel was a thriller with the Indian winning the first set in 17 minutes. She looked set to wrap up the match but Xuerei, who is making comeback to high level competitive badminton after a long layoff due to injury, was not giving up and forced a rubber with a 21-17 win the second set.
In the decider, Saina led at the break 11-7. Xuerui however was not ready to throw in the towel and fought back to win a place the final
Call it “unlucky” but Saina came undone when the umpirre over ruled a linesman’s call which tied the score at 20-20. The world No 1 was clearly affected by the call and lost the next two points.
“I lost but I am happy with my performance. I take the defeat in my stride and start thinking think of the coming tournaments. Some calls went against me but this is sports,” said Saina.
Carolina Marin (Spn) beat Wang Shixian (Chn) 21-17, 24-22; Li Xuerui (Chn) beat Saina Nehwal (Ind) 13-21, 21-17, 22-20