It was a mixed day for India in the Thailand Open Grand Prix gold tournament on Saturday. While third seed B Sai Praneeth took just 36 minutes to dismantle the challenge posed by Pannawit Thongnuam in the semifinals of the men's singles, second seed Saina Nehwal faltered in the last-four stage of the women's singles event to bow out of the tournament in Bangkok. She lost to Thai Busanan Ongbamrungphan in straight games.
Sai Praneeth seemed to be in a hurry to reach the final as he needed hardly any time to win 21-11 21-15. While the first game was pocketed fast by the Indian, the Thai came back strong in the second to keep just a point's difference at the interval.
However, Thongnuam's challenge was short-lived as Praneeth smashed some great shots to take a bigger lead and before you knew it, he had won the second game and set up the final match against Jonatan Christie, the fourth seed from Indonesia. Christie beat Malaysia's Joo Ven Soong 21-9 21-18 in his semis match.
Sai Praneeth had won the Singapore Open in April, his maiden Super Series victory, defeating compatriot Kidambi Srikanth.
It was a disappointing day for Saina because she had won a tough quarterfinal match on Friday. Against Ongbamrungphan, the former world No 1 lost 19-21 18-21 in a closely-fought tie that lasted 53 minutes.
While Saina made some unforced errors in the first game at crucial moments, she tried to fight back in the second. However, the Thai fourth seed refused to let the Indian claw her way back into the match as she capitalized on the London Games bronze medalist's mistakes to clinch the match in straight games.