Such was the intensity and emotion of the match that Saina Nehwal won. The win saw her enter the semifinals and keeps alive her hopes of regaining the Indonesia Open that she won in 2009 and 2010 before being beaten in the final last year.
Saina was dominant over Shixian (pictured right) to begin with, moving well and hitting hard, and seemed to have sewn up the match in the second game at 20-17. The Chinese No. 3 seed began a great fightback, took the game 23-21 and dragged the Indian through an excruciating contest in the third before finally capitulating at the end of an hour-and-a-half.
Despite fighting with everything she had, the current world number 4 fell just short to prove she is deserving of the trip to London 2012 Olympic Games this summer. Though Shixian had qualified in third place on the World Ranking on 3 May this year, but Chinese rising star Li Xuerui has since overtaken her on the World Ranking table.
While the Saina-Shixian match was the highlight of the day, there were significant results in other matches as well. China also lost their No. 2 seed Wang Xin in the women’s singles, and top seeds Zhang Nan / Zhao Yunlei in the mixed doubles.
Wang Xin was shut out by Korea’s world No.10 Sung Ji Hyun, who has troubled Chinese players in the past. Sung recorded her second successive victory over Wang Xin as she cruised to a 21-16 21-17 win. China though were assured of a place in the final, as top seed Wang Yihan and Li Xuerui booked semifinal slots in the top half of the draw.
Zhang Nan / Zhao Yunlei were stunned by Thai veterans Sudket Prapakamol / Saralee Thoungthongkam, who outpointed the favourites 18-21 21-18 21-17 and will meet Korea’s Ko Sung Hyun / Eom Hye Won, who surprised Denmark’s fourth seeded Joachim Fischer/ Christinna Pedersen in three games 21-15 14-21 21-16.
Besides Korea, the quarterfinals of the third OSIM BWF Superseries Premier event of 2012 also turned out to be a good day for India. A few hours before Saina’s win, compatriot Parupalli Kashyap continued his impressive run after he shocked top seed Chen Long on Thursday to book his semifinals berth against local favourite Simon Santoso in the semifinals.
Riding the form of his life, Kashyap got past Denmark’s world No.16 Hans-Kristian Vittinghus (pictured left) in straight games, 21-15 21-14. Kashyap was aggressive, smashing at every opportunity and unafraid to take the net. Vittinghus made a match of it in the second game, and he stayed close until 9, but then the Indian stepped on the pedal and was a comfortable winner in the end unleashing a series of effective net-play and pushes.
China found saving grace in the men’s singles when an inspired Du Pengyu ended Indonesia’s comeback man Sony Dwi Kuncoro’s dream run of the last few two weeks. Sony had put out third seed Peter Gade and compatriot Taufik Hidayat in the first two rounds but was outlasted by the Chiense No. 8 seed 21-14 21-15 in 52 minutes.
But the hosts already had much to cheer about as Indonesia’s Olympic-bound women’s doubles pair Greysia Polii and Meiliana Jauhari won their first match in five encounters against Japan’s world No.8 pair Miyuki Maeda and Satoko Suetsuna (pictured right). Jauhari’s heavy hitting from the back, and astute work by playmaker Polii up front, unsettled the Japanese.
Results of the quarterfinals of the 2012 Djarum Indonesia Open can be found here.