Saina overcomes Schenk, in semis
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Saina Nehwal looks set to cap a remarkable year on a high as she reached the semifinals of the World Super Series Finals with a straight-game win over Juliane Schenk of Germany on Friday. Saina had her back against the wall after two back-to-back losses in Group 'B' but the London Olympics bronze-medallist put herself back into the reckoning with a 21-7 21-18 victory over Schenk in 37 minutes.
The World No. 3 Saina was ahead 9-2 just five minutes into the match and soon swelled her lead to 15-7. Saina reeled off another six points to pocket the first game with relative ease. The first game saw Saina hitting six smash winners against three by her German opponent. In the next game, Schenk looked a better player and used her on-court experience to perfection to take a 6-3 lead. However, her three-point lead was short-lived as Saina used her crosscourt smashes to perfection to reduce the deficit. The second game saw both the players running neck and neck with the scoreline locked at 11-all.
None was ready to relent first as Saina relied on her fine baseline game to neutralise Schenk's trademark power-game. Saina, however, managed to break the deadlock and surged ahead to 14-12. But, the World No. 4 Schenk made a spirited comeback against her old nemesis and won some crucial points to reduce the lead to 16-18.
Just when it looked like that the match will head to the decider, Saina reeled off five consecutive points to win the battle of survival and booked her place in the last-four of women's singles. The second game saw Saina hitting 10 smash winners as compared to Schenk's six. In the semis of the $500,000 year-ending event, the fourth seeded Saina will lock horns against the top seed, China's Xuerui Li, who defeated Korea's Ji Hyun Sung 21-9 21-12 in her final Group 'A' match.
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