India's ace shuttler Saina Nehwal went down in her singles semi-final to reigning Olympic champion Li Xuerui at the $500,000 Malaysia Open Superseries Premier on Saturday.
The loss will see Saina concede the World No.1 ranking she achieved recently.
The Chinese beat the Indian 13-21, 21-17, 22-20 in an hour and eight minutes at the Putra Stadium.
With the win, World No.3 Xuerui extended her career record to 9-2 against Saina.
Xuerui will take on reigning World Champion Carolina Marin in the final, who beat second seeded Chinese Shixian Wang 21-17, 24-22 in the other semi-final.
Saina started in perfect fashion to clinch the first game in style. Though the Chinese matched Saina's shots till 6-all, the Hyderabadi stamped her authority to take flight and quickly seal the first game.
The second game was a neck-and-neck fight till 18-17, in favour of Xuerui, who held her nerve to win the last three points and push the match into the decider.
The third game was even more hotly contested. Saina held the advantage at 17-12, but the former World No.1 won five straight points to close the gap. Thereafter, both shuttlers did not allow the other more than a point's difference.
At 20-all, Xuerui pulled out decisive smashes on the next two points to enter the final.
(With inputs from Agencies)