World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia reached the men's singles semifinals at the Commonwealth Games with a comfortable 21-13, 21-11 victory Monday over Singapore's Chen Yong Zhao.
Lee held the match in a vice like grip, making Chen dance around the court with his delicate drops and bursts of smashes. Women's top-seed Saina Nehwal of India defeated Anna Rice of Canada 21-7, 21-10 in the singles quarterfinals. Rice was down 0-7 in the first game before taking the first point off the Indian ace. The entire match lasted 30 minutes, exactly as long as Lee had taken to demolish Chen.
India's two other top medal hopefuls, Kashyap Parupalli and Chetan Anand Buradagunta, also entered the men's singles semifinals. Parupalli defeated Malaysia's Hashim Muhammad Hafiz 19-21, 21-19, 21-16 in the quarterfinals and will play in Tuesday's semifinal against Rajiv Ouseph of England. Buradagunta beat Carl Baxter of England 21-17, 21-9 in another quarterfinal.
"The crowd support made him make a lot of mistakes. I started off well which put him under a lot of pressure. I slowed him down. That was the plan," Buradagunta said.
Buradagunta, who hasn't beaten Lee in any of their previous matches leading into Tuesday's semifinals, said his Malaysian opponent will likely face pressure from the partisan Indian crowd, just as Baxter did Monday when his every mistake was lustily cheered.
While the third-seeded Buradagunta's victory was expected, Parupalli struggled to overcome his own fears to beat Hashim. He acknowledged he has a longstanding problem of cracking after losing the first game.
"This is what happens to me every time I lose the first game. I end up losing the match. I told myself I am not going to go down this time," he said.
The fourth-seeded Hashim relied on his superb strokes, which sent Parupallli scurrying across the court constantly. But the Indian showed remarkable retrieving skills, relying on Hashim's mistakes to win points.
"I made a lot of mistakes. That made him comfortable. This is quite disappointing. As you can see I have no medals," said Hashim, the 2003 All England Open champion.
India's women's doubles pair of Jwala Gutta and Aparna Machimanda defeated England's Mariana Agathangelou and Heather Olver 21-9, 21-14 to reach the semifinals.
However, Gutta and her partner, Diju Valia Veetil, lost in the mixed doubles to the Malaysian pair of Chin Ee Hui and Koo Kien Keat.
Another Indian, Aditi Mutatkar, also crashed out of the tournament, losing the women's singles Wong Mew Choo. Wong will play against Liz Cann of England in the semifinal while Nehwal will meet Susan Egelstaff of Scotaland.