Saina Nehwal's hopes of defending the Singapore Open title went up in smoke after the Indian lost to Chinese Taipei's Shao Chieh Cheng in a thrilling three-game pre-quarterfinal here on Thursday.
The fourth seeded Indian blew a first game advantage to suffer a 21-8, 10-21, 19-21 defeat against world number 10 Shao in a 52-minute second round match at Singapore city on Thursday.
The 21-year-old from Hyderabad had won the Singapore Super Series in June last year but Saina failed to repeat her performance on Thursday at the Singapore Indoor complex.
The World No 4 Indian, who was knocked out of the Thailand Open Grand Prix Gold last week in the quarterfinals, relied on her power-puffed smashes but the Chinese Taipei girl caught her at the nets to reach the quarters.
Saina was at her dominating best in the first game as she indulged in smashes and also played better at the nets to march ahead in gaint strides and didn't give any chance to Shao to narrow the gap and lead 1-0.
But Shao gave Saina a dose of her own medicine as she matched the Indian's smashes but caught her at the nets to roar back into contention.
The decider turned out to a see-saw battle as the two fought tooth and nail but Saina blew a narrow two-point lead at 14-12 as Shao registered six straight points first and kept the Indian away to sneak into the quarterfinals.
Saina will now try to defend her title in the Djarum Indonesia Open which she had won last year.