Saina Nehwal failed to produce her vintage form of recent years as the Indian ace suffered a shock defeat to lower-ranked Malaysian Julia Pei Xian Wong in the quarter-finals to crash out of the Yonex Sunrise Indian Open in Hyderabad on Friday.
Second-seeded Saina lost 21-12, 13-21, 18-21 to fifth-seed Julia, against whom she had won three times in four encounters, to bring the curtains down on India’s singles campaign at the Grand Prix Gold event.
However, the mixed doubles pair of Jwala Gutta and Valiyaveetil Diju kept the Indian flag flying with a 21-13, 21-13 win over Chinese pair of Tao Jiaming and Xiaoli Wang to move into the semi-finals.
Some judgmental errors and mistakes put paid to world number nine Saina’s hopes of winning the title in front of her home crowd.
The Indian was put on the back foot right from the start as her Malaysian rival opened up a 4-0 lead. But Saina came back strongly to draw level at 6-6 and then grabbed the lead at 10-13. The Malaysian pocketed two more points but Saina soon raced away, winning the game 21-12.