Indian badminton ace Saina Nehwal reached the women's single semifinals of the Malaysia Masters on Friday, January 20, after a 21-15, 21-14 win over Indonesian Fitriani in Sarawak. Saina needed 40 minutes to get past her opponent in the last-eight of the season-opening USD 120,000 Grand Prix Gold badminton tournament. The top-seeded Indian will now face Hong Kong's Yip Pui Yin in the semifinals of the event. Saina has favourable 6-2 head-to-head record against Yin, and hasn't lost to the latter since the 2010 Asian Games.
In the men's singles, World No. 19 Ajay Jayaram found the going tough against Indonesia's Anthony Sinisuka Ginting, who beat the sixth seeded Indian 21-13 21-8 in just 28 minutes.
This was Jayaram's third defeat to the Indonesian, having lost to him at Hyderabad Asia Team Championship and French Open as well.
Saina took her own time to get her bearing against Fitriani, who quickly opened up a 4-0 lead and consolidated her position to reach 11-6 lead at the interval.
However, the Indian soon started gathering points after the break and caught up with Fitriani at 12-12. Saina soon jumped to a 16-14 lead and then reeled off five straight points to pocket the opening game.
In the second game, Saina continued with her dominating show as she opened a 4-2 lead early on and then jumped to a 9-5 advantage before entering the breather at 11-6. Yin gave a fightback after the interval and narrowed down the gap to 12-13 but Saina soon marched ahead and sealed the match.
(With inputs from PTI)