Odense: Ace Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal booked her place in the finals of the Denmark Super Series Premier tournament after world No. 1 opponent Yihan Wang of China retired midway through the semi-final clash because of a knee injury.
The London Olympics silver medallist looked in great physical distress and finally decided to throw in the towel after lagging 7-12 in the second game. Saina had won the first game comfortably at 21-12.
Saina, the London Games bronze medallist, will take on sixth seed German Juliane Schenk, who beat eighth seed Yanjiao Jiang 13-21, 21-14, 21-15 in the other women’s singles semi-final.
The Indian has a 5-3 record against the world No. 7 German. The last time, the duo faced each other was in Japan Open last year, where Juliane had the last laugh.
This is Saina’s first victory over Yihan, who has scored six victories over the Indian so far in the past — the latest was in the semi-finals of the London Olympics in August this year.
The 22-year-old Indian was lagging 0-5 in the first game but she recovered brilliantly, pocketing six points on the trot. She then went into the break at 11-6.
After the break, Saina continued her fine run and held on to her lead and finally nosed ahead with four straight points.
In the second game, Saina once again opened up a healthy 9-2 lead. The Indian mixed her strokes well with deep tosses and accurate smashes and made her opponent move across the court with her cross-court play.
Saina forced Yihan to bend down and the Chinese was finding it difficult to pick up her tight net shots. Her injured right knee curtailed her court movements as Saina went into the breather at 11-6 with a body line shot.
Yihan clearly looked in physical distress because of the injury and after a consultation with the tournament doctor decided to quit with the score reading 12-7 in Saina’s favour at that time.
Friday, Saina had eased past local hope Tine Baun in straight games.
Third seed Saina took just 33 minutes to beat fifth seed Baun 21-10, 21-11 to make the last-four stage.
Saina, playing her first tournament after becoming the first Indian shuttler to fetch an Olympic medal (a bronze) in London, was hardly troubled in the match on Friday.