Indian badminton ace Saina Nehwal ended her dismal run against Japan's Akane Yamaguchi after she defeated the World No.2 for the first time in four years to enter the quarterfinals of the Denmark Open on Thursday.
The Olympic bronze-medallist who has dropped to World No. 27, registered a comfortable 21-15, 21-17 win over second-seeded Yamaguchi in the pre-quarterfinal match that lasted just 36 minutes.
Nehwal trailed 0-4 initially but she made a fine comeback to level the scores at 10-10. But from there on, the Indian shuttler showed tremendous resolve and reeled off five straight points to take a 15-10 lead and then widened it to 19-12.
Yamaguchi recovered a bit but Nehwal grabbed five game points at 20-15 and then easily pocketed the first game. In the second game, it was Nehwal's turn to take the lead initially as she zoomed to 7-2 but Yamaguchi caught her up at 11-11.
After that, it was a close tussle between the two as they were locked 17-17. At that stage, Nehwal cinched four points on the trot to win the second game and clinch the match. The 28-year-old Indian will now take on World No. 3 and another Japanese Nozomi Okuhara in the quarterfinals on Friday.
This was Nehwal's second career win over Yamaguchi, who has won six times in the head-to-head encounters between the two. The Indian badminton ace's first win against the Japanese came in 2014 during the China Open.
Since then, Yamaguchi has enjoyed a better share of measure in their head-to-head record. When the two clashed earlier this year at the Uber Cup in May and Malaysia Open in, both the ties went in Yamaguchi's favour.
Meanwhile, earlier this month, there was a lot of hype surrounding the auction of the Premier Badminton League (PBL) and it surely did live up to its expectation. In what comes as no surprise PV Sindu, Saina Nehwal and Carolina Marin were the top buys of the night, fetching the maximum bidding price of Rs 80 lakh on Monday.
Considering the league will be a nine-team affair with the addition of a new franchise Pune Seven Aces, the organizers decided to hold a fresh auction where teams would need to build from scratch. This meant the players returned to the auction pool for the first time since 2015 and with no right to match card at the team's disposal.