Dubai: Olympic bronze medallist Saina Nehwal Friday entered the last four of the $1,000,000 Badminton World Federation (BWF) Superseries Finals, topping her group with a third straight win at the Hamdan Sports Complex here.
World No.4 Saina defeated No.8 Bae Yeon Ju of South Korea 15-21, 21-7, 21-17 in her final Group A encounter that lasted an hour and nine minutes.
Saina started the first game on a positive note and raced away to a 8-2 lead quickly, before Bae equalised at 14-14 and then bagged five straight points to open up a five-point advantage against the Indian. The left-handed South Korean's sharp and deceptive drop shots rattled Saina, who lost the game 15-21.
In the second game, the 24-year-old Indian took a 6-2 lead before Bae collected four points on the trot to fight her way back.
However, Saina, upped the ante and controlled the proceedings thereon. Her service became more effective and she moved swiftly within the court too. Her aggressive play baffled the South Korean, who conceded nine successive points.
The 24-year-old Bae had earned just one point before Saina again completed her domination in the second game by taking six straight points with a much-improved net-play.
The third game was a closely-fought affair as the 2013 World Championships bronze medallist Bae regained her focus and concentration. She rose up to the task and retrieved everything the Indian had thrown at her.
Saina did not have the best of starts and trailed 3-7 before imposing her way back with six straight points, which helped her take a two-point lead. However, the Asian Games bronze medallist again had her moments and did well to pressurise Saina.
After the scores were tied 13-all, Saina went on the offensive and held a four-point lead at 17-13 and eventually clinched the decider 21-17 to oust Bae from the season-ending Superseries competition.
This win helped Saina take a 7-4 lead in career meetings against Bae.
Saina, finalist in 2011, had defeated World No.2 Shixian Wang of China and world No.5 Sung Ji Hyun of South Korea in the first two matches. Sung qualified to the semi-finals riding on her wins over her compatriot and reigning Asian Games champion Shixian, who lost all her matches.
Later in the day, India's leading male shuttler Kidambi Srikanth will face World No.3 Jan O Jorgensen of Denmark.