Indian challenge ended at the Asia Badminton Championship after Saina Nehwal and HS Prannoy went down fighting in the women's and men's singles semifinals in Wuhan on Saturday. Saina, who had clinched her second gold medal at the Commonwealth Games 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 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.
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.
However, a precise Tai grabbed three quick points to lead 9-5 before entering the break at 11-6 after Saina's attempted drop went wide.