Saina Nehwal defeated Akane Yamaguchi 21-15, 21-17 in the pre-quarterfinals of the Denmark Open Badminton Championships on Thursday.
This was Nehwal’s first victory over the Japanese Olympic medallist from 2012 in the last seven encounters between them. This was yet another upset by a member of the Indian contingent after Sameer Verma had managed the prize scalp of world number two Shi Yuqi earlier.
Yamaguchi started strongly, racing to a 4-0 lead in the first game. Saina immediately hit back, winning six points on the stretch to stop the Japanese’s early momentum in the match. A see-saw first game saw both women level at 10-10 before Saina hit the accelerator once again and stretch her lead to 15-10.
The deficit was too much for Saina’s opponent to overcome and the Indian took the game comfortably. The second game started off in identical fashion with Yamaguchi again gaining a 4-0 lead.
Nehwal trailed for most of the first part of the second game, but won five points in a stretch starting from 8-11 to take a two-point lead. Despite the Japanese clawing her way back to take a slender lead at 17-16, Saina rattled off the final five points to take the game and the match.
She will face the Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara in the quarters.
For India’s other results, head here.
Correction: The previous version of the article said this is Saina Nehwal’s first win in seven matches whereas the Indian defeated Akane Yamaguchi in their first meeting followed by six defeats. The wording has been altered to reflect the same.