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Saina in Junior World semis

The 16-year-old Hyderabadi, seeded 14th in the tournament, won her match against Jie Liu of China in just under an hour.

india Updated: Nov 09, 2006 23:20 IST

Saina Nehwal stormed into the semifinals of the World Junior Badminton Championships in Incheon, South Korea, when she upset third seed Jie Liu of China 21-18, 21-8 on Thursday. The 16-year-old Hyderabadi, seeded 14th in the tournament, won her match against the formidable Chinese in just under an hour.

Speaking to HT from Incheon, Saina said she was thrilled with her show. "I was expecting a win, but not a straight games one. She is a tough player but I was confident about my chances, more so since I knew I could engage her in long rallies," she said.

Her tactics worked to perfection as the game involved long rallies and, as Saina expected, Liu began to get tired and started committing errors, losing the opener 18-21.

The second game saw Saina stepping up her pace several notches and, besides her trademark long rallies, also began scoring repeatedly through a barrage of smashes. "I changed my tactics in the second and went out for all out attack. She was not prepared for this and caved in," said Saina.

With this win, Saina is only one step away from equaling national champion Aparna Popat's decade-old feat of reaching the final of the junior World Championships in 1996. Popat remains the only Indian to achieve this distinction.

"Yes, I know there is Aparna's record. But right now I am concentrating on winning my next match. I am taking it one match at a time, history can wait," she said.

Sania next runs into Korean Young Jae Bae for a spot in the title clash. How does she rate her chances against the Korean? "Well, it is always tough playing against a Korean player in Korea. But I am confident as I have seen her play and know what tactics to employ against her," she said.

First Published: Nov 09, 2006 23:20 IST