Saina Nehwal loses in Asia Championship semifinals

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Wuhan (China): Commonwealth Games gold medallist Saina Nehwal and world no 10 HS Prannoy settled for bronze medals after losing their respective women’s and men’s singles semifinals in the Asia Badminton Championship on Saturday.

It was curtains for India after Saina, who had clinched her second gold medal at Gold Coast earlier this month, played out of her skin but could not get past world number two and defending champion Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei, losing 25-27 19-21 in an edge-of-the seat thriller.

World number 10 Prannoy, on the other hand, paid the price for being too erratic as he went down 16-21 18-21 to the Olympic champion Chen Long of China in a 52-minute match.

For Saina, it was her eighth straight loss to Tai Tzu in 16 meetings and third defeat of the season. She had lost to her nemesis at the Indonesia Open final and All England Championship this year but unlike those defeats, it turned out to be a thrilling contest today as Saina gave ample display of her new-found confidence and fitness.

It was Saina’s third Asian Championship bronze medal, while Prannoy became the first Indian male shuttler to win a medal in the tournament since Anup Sridhar won a bronze in 2007.

In a fast-paced contest where fortunes fluctuated too often, it was Tai Tzu who made a roaring 4-1 start with her delightful touches. She held on to her three-point advantage at 6-3 before a few loose shots from her helped Saina to narrow the gap to one point.

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