It was a familiar opponent, someone she’d never beaten. The odds were stacked heavily against her but there was that slim hope — of an upset at home. But that was not to be.
It took Wang Yihan just 38 minutes to dismantle Saina Nehwal’s strategy, the electronic scoreboard reading 16-21, 14-21 in the third seed’s favour. No matter what the 24-year-old Indian tried, nothing could break the Chinese wall in the quarterfinals of the Yonex Sunrise India Open on Friday evening.
There is a reason why Wang is world No 2. Before this match, the head-to-head record, right from their junior days, read 8-1 in her favour. The only time Saina managed to open that account was in the semifinals of the 2012 Denmark Open when Wang retired hurt.
The London Games silver medallist possesses clinical finishing shots. Doing what she does best, Wang kept Saina at the back of the court, and suddenly a deceptive drop would have the Indian confused at Siri Fort. Despite most of the world No 8’s taps hitting the net, she did manage to find some answers. Certain smashes became winners, some drops caused Wang to err.
Did the head-to-head record play on Saina’s mind? “Yes, it does sometimes,” she conceded. But ‘it was good for me to see that I have improved against her’. “The few errors, those few mistakes which saw Wang stretch the lead,” said the eighth seed. “Those few errors at the net were not necessary. The next time I play her, I have to be wary of that, I have to be more alert.”
Lee Chong Wei played to the crowd. The world No 1 Malaysian took 40 minutes to end Parupalli Kashyap’s challenge in the last-eight stage with a 21-15, 21-13 scoreline.