After two consecutive losses, Saina Nehwal finally managed to post a hard-fought win over Yeon Ju Bae of Korea in her last Group B match but it was not good enough to ensure a semifinal berth for the Indian in the BWF World Superseries Finals here on Friday.
The 23-year-old registered a 21-11 17-21 21-13 win over Bae in a match that last for one hour. It was Saina's sixth victory over Bae, who had an upper hand against the Indian recently in French Super Series and World Champioship.
World number six Saina had suffered back-to-back defeats at the hands of Minatsu Mitani of Japan and world number one Chinese Li Xuerui in her two matches of Group B, which had put her in a must-win situation to salvage any hope of a semifinal qualification.
A straight-game victory over Bae would have brightened her chances but after the Korean snatched the second game away, it dashed the hopes of the Olympic bronze medallist to reach the semis.
Later in the day, Xuerui packed off Mitani 21-11 21-14 to make it a three-way tie among Saina, Bae and Mitani for the second place in the group.
However, according to the tournament rules, when the difference of games won and games lost was calculated, Bae was found ahead of Saina and Mitani and the Korean joined Xuerui as the runners-up from Group B.
In the opening game, from 6-6, Saina registered six straight points to gather a healthy lead. The six point run was broken when Saina hit long but the Indian continued to dominate and reached 15-7. Despite winning the first game convincingly, the Korean made a strong comeback in the second and third to seal the deal.