India’s challenge in the Malaysia Masters Super 500 badminton tournament came to a tame end on Friday after world champion PV Sindhu and former world No 1 Saina Nehwal were comfortably beaten in the women’s singles quarter-final by their respective opponents.
Sindhu went down 21-16, 21-16 against Tai Tzu Ying while Nehwal was outclassed 21-8, 21-7 by Carolina Marin in the quarter-finals.
Sindhu, who came into the match with a head-to-head record reading 5-11 in her opponent’s favour, began strong and tried to take the attack to Tai. It looked like the ploy was working as she turned around a 6-3 deficit and twice managed to take a lead of more than one point.
But the faster conditions clearly suited Tai as she controlled the shuttle well and used deception to wriggle out of tight situations and won six of the last seven points to pocket the opening game.
The Taipei shuttler was in complete control in the second and raced to a 11-4 lead at the break. It was only after she had nine match points that Tai lowered her guard and Sindhu managed to save five match points thanks to a couple of unforced errors from Tai and a few quick winners from Sindhu.
However, any chances of a turn around looked remote as a lift from Sindhu sailed long to hand the match to Tai in 36 minutes.
The top seed will face China’s He Bingjiao who defeated third seed Nozomi Okuhara 21-17, 21-10 in the other quarter-final.
Later in the day, Nehwal was completely outplayed by the aggressive Marin. If the Indian had fancied her chances against the former world champion, who is getting back into her rhythm after a long injury lay-off, those thoughts would have soon disappeared as the Spaniard took control of the rallies and did not allow her opponent to attack.
Marin dominated the net and every time Nehwal tried to play slightly tighter, she used the deceptive flicks to score points.
In both the games, Nehwal looked slightly more competitive in the first part as Marin also needed time to adjust to different conditions across the net and ended up dropping just two points and one point respectively in the two games after the break.