Bangkok: Top seed Saina Nehwal crashed out in the quarterfinals of the Thailand Open GP Gold against last year’s Asian champion Li Xuerui on Friday, but her compatriot Sourabh Verma nearly pulled the plug on third seeded Korean Park Sung Hwan.
The Indian challenge ended with Verma’s loss, as Saina and P Kashyap had both crashed out to Chinese opponents earlier. Saina would be disappointed as she went down without much of a fight, losing 21-13 21-12 to Xuerui, who won the Asian Championships in New Delhi last year after beating Saina in the semifinals.
Kashyap too fell in straight games to top seed Chen Long, losing 21-18 21-5. Sourabh Verma, on the other hand, played brilliantly against former Asian champion Park, even taking the first game, leading from start to finish. The second game was tight, but Park broke away from 8-all and kept his lead to equalize. The third again was close in the early stages, and Park had to use all his experience to seal the victory. What made Verma’s performance creditable was that this was his fourth straight three-set game – he had earlier beaten Andre Tedjono (Indonesia), Jen Hao Hsu (Taipei) and Kuan Beng Hong (Malaysia), all in three-set battles. Three of his four matches had gone beyond an hour. Following his India Open Superseries performance, where he reached the quarterfinals, Sourabh has overshadowed most of his other compatriots.
Xuerui will meet India Open Superseries winner Porntip B of Thailand in the semifinals, while No.2 seed Jiang Yanjiao (China) will take on No.6 seed Cheng Shao Chieh of Taipei.
In the men’s singles, Chen Long faces Park, while Chen Jin will meet either young compatriot Wang Zhengming or sixth seed Korean Lee Hyun Il.
Indian results (all quarterfinals): 7-Li Xuerui (Chn) bt 1-Saina Nehwal 21-13 21-12
MS: 1-Chen Long (Chn) bt P Kashyap 21-18 21-5; 3-Park Sung Hwan (Kor) bt Sourabh Verma 16-21 21-16 21-11