For the third time this year, Saina Nehwal’s progress at a Superseries event was halted by Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi as the Indian star went down fighting in the second round of French Open Superseries in Paris on Thursday.
The fifth seed from Japan won 21-9, 23-21 in a match that lasted 28 minutes, to defeat Nehwal for the second time in less than a week. It was Yamaguchi who ended Nehwal’s tournament at the Denmark Open last Friday with a 10-21, 13-21 scoreline. She had also defeated Nehwal in the opening round at the Malaysia Open in May.
Nehwal did not get off to the best of starts in Paris, trailing 6-11 in the first game before losing 8 straight points at the end as the Japanese wrapped drew first blood. Despite improving her game, the second seemed to be slipping away from Nehwal as well, with the score reading 7-11 at the mid-game break.
But the Indian, who moved up by one place in the latest BWF World Rankings to be 11th, fought back after the break. She won four points in a row from trailing 16-19 to give herself a game point and force a decider but Yamaguchi turned it around to wrap the game up 23-21.