Top seed Saina Nehwal crashed out of the Asian Badminton Championship after losing her semifinal match against Chinese qualifier Xuerui Li, bringing down the curtains on the Indian challenge at the event in New Delhi on Saturday.
The World number six Indian lost 17-21 11-21 against Xuerui in a 31-minute match at the Siri Fort complex.
Xuerui will next take on compatriot Liu Xin in an all-Chinese final tomorrow in the women's singles category.
In men' singles, Chinese superstar Lin Dan beat fifth seed Thai Boonsak Ponsana 22-20 21-10 in 39 minutes. He will lock horns with fellow Chinese Zhengming Wang, who pulled off an incredible 21-14 19-21 21-16 win over Sixth seed Japanese Kenichi Tago in a 57-minute match.
The 20-year-old Saina was not in her elements as a weak defense and a series of unforced errors ruined her final hopes although the semifinal finish still remains her best result in the Asian championship.
The Chinese shuttler was better prepared and exploited Saina's defense. The Indian tried to keep the shuttle low and served it flat but Xuerui used her agility and powerful smashes to shut the door on Saina.
The first game was a roller-coaster affair as the duo moved neck and neck from 8-8 to 16-16 but the Indian lost a couple of shots at the nets to allow the Chinese to surge ahead. Another shot outside the court saw Xuerui going into the match point at 20-17 and the Chinese sealed the game comfortably.
In the second game, Saina couldn't match up to the fast paced game of the Chinese and her defense crumbled as from 3-3 the Chinese made it 8-3.
Saina couldn't retrieve the low drops of the Chinese pushed at her left. As Saina's game crumbled, the Chinese widened the gap to 12-4 and 19-6 and although Saina grabbed five straight points it was too little too late in the end.
Saina said she was not focused on the match and slow in the second game.
"I was not focused enough and was slow in the second game. We both are aggressive players but she was faster. I didn't know her as I am playing her for the first time. She was a better player today," she said.
"I'm still happy because it is my best finish in ABC and compared to last year, my game has improved but I will have to work more on my speed and how to slow down the game and also on the mental aspect of the game," she added.
In men's doubles, top seeds Hung Ling Chen and Yu Lang Lin of Chinese Taipei continued their march, beating the Korean pair of Sang Hoon Han and Ji Man Hwang 21-18 12-21 21-18 in a 53-minute match.