The Indian challenge came to an end at the Macau Open Grand Prix Gold badminton tournament on Friday as women’s top seed Saina Nehwal and B Sai Praneeth both crashed out of the tournament, losing to Chinese opponents in the quarterfinals.
Saina Nehwal, who has been losing all her opening games during the matches in the tournament so far, found herself in a similar position against the world No .226, Zhang Yiman. It was a dominant show from the Chinese in the first game, rushing to an 11-8 lead at the halfway mark before piling on the pressure on the former world No. 1. Yiman took the next 10 points in fine style, while conceding only three.
The Chinese player then opened up a seven-point lead at 19-12 before a brief resistance from the Indian world No. 10 bridged the gap to 16-19. The comeback was short-lived and Yiman held on to her nerves to take the game 21-17 to inflict yet another quarterfinal exit for Saina.
In the men’s quarterfinal, B Sai Praneeth found himself in trouble early on in the first game as Zhao Jun Peng opened up a 4-0 lead. Praneeth, ranked 88 places above the 20-year-old, banked on his experience to take a slender 11-10 lead at the halfway mark but failed to hold on as Peng took the first game in just 17 minutes.
It was one-way traffic in the second game as Peng started out on an aggressive note and won five consecutive points to open up a seven-point lead. Praneeth trailed 4-11 at the halfway mark.
Praneeth, who had registered a terrific victory win over world No. 18 Wong Wing Ki Vincent in the pre-quarterfinal stage on Thursday, failed to bridge the gap as Zhang won the second game in just 11 minutes.
Saina, who had to undergo a surgery in August, is yet to go past the last-eight stage of a tournament since her recovery. She crashed out in the quarterfinals at the Hong Kong Open in November and had a first-round loss in the China Open.
Saina had come back from a game down to beat Indonesian Dinar Dyah Ayustine and Hanna Ramadini in the opening round matches in Macau. She was also the only Indian woman in the fray after PV Sindhu had pulled out of the tournament.