Dubai: The dream run of top shuttlers Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth came to an end after they suffered contrasting defeats in the semifinals to bring the curtains down on India's campaign at the BWF World Super Series Finals badminton tournament here Saturday.
While Indian ace Saina's invincible run was cut short by Chinese Taipei's Tai Tzu Ying, who handed her a heart-breaking 11-21 21-13 21-9 loss in women's singles, young Srikanth blew away a healthy lead in the first game to go down 18-21 9-21 against World Champion Chen Long of China in the men's singles.
It was 24-year-old Saina, who started the semifinal proceedings and the 2011 finalist was on course for another final appearance when she walked away with the opening game but she crumbled under pressure in the second and third game to let the opportunity slip.
In the opening game, Tai struggled with her length early on as a series of unforced errors allowed Saina to quickly go 4-0 up. The Indian looked very composed and egged on by a vociferous crowd, she grabbed a comfortable 11-5 lead at the break when Tai faltered with her cross court dribble.
The Taiwan girl didn't have any answer to Saina's angled strokes and immaculate netplay as the Indian cantered to a 17-7 lead. Tai collected a few points with her fast slices and returns but she never looked to threaten the Indian.
Saina closed the first game eventually when Tai found the net.
The second game also started on a similar note as Saina opened up a 4-0 lead again. Playing with the drift now on the other side of the court, Saina faced problems with the length, which allowed Tai to claw back at 4-4. Tai showed great anticipation at the nets thereafter to lead 5-4 for the first time in the match.
The Taiwan girl slowly gained in confidence and put pressure on Saina, who all of a sudden seemed clueless. Tai came up with improved strokes and good movement on the court to move into the interval at 11-6.
Saina changed her tactics after the break and soon she reaped dividends as she moved her way back to draw parity at 12-12. But the Indian made a few mistakes in line judgement as Tai once again led 17-12. A backhand half smash took Tai to the game point and she soon roared back into contest when Saina hit wide.
In the decider, Saina's unforced errors saw Tai lead 6-2. The World No. 9 changed the pace of the rallies with deceptive drops and backhand returns and dominated the game as Saina showed signs of mental frailty and eventually crumbled.
At the break, Tai led 11-3 and continued her dominance even after the change of ends, extending her lead to 15-4. In the end, Tai sealed a place in the finals with a couple of disguise drops which Saina had no answers.