Kuala Lumpur: World No.1 Saina Nehwal set up a semi-final clash with China's reigning Olympic champion Li Xuerui as she beat Chinese Sun Yu 21-11, 18-21, 21-17 in the quarter-finals of the $500,000 Malaysia Open Superseries Premier at the Putra Stadium here on Friday.
Olympic bronze medallist Saina faces a tough task to go past World No.3 Xuerui, who battled past compatriot and former World champion Yihan Wang 14-21, 21-15, 21-12 in 55 minutes.
Saina, 25, trails two-time World Championships silver medallist Xuerui 2-8 in career meetings.
However, Saina was in her element from the beginning in the match against Sun. She hardly broke into a sweat before capturing the first game 21-11. After zooming to a 12-4 lead, it was easy for the Indian.
But in the second game, World No.15 Sun showed grit and fought her way back. She raced to a 7-1 advantage and Saina chased the game before six straight points helped her equalise at the 14-point mark. However, Sun kept her calm to take the second game 21-18.
Saina controlled the third game from the start. Relying on a strong array of strokes and sharp movement inside the court, the Hyderabadi enjoyed a 11-7 lead at the break.
Sun fired seven points on the trot to level the game at 14-all and even held a 17-16 lead before Saina asserted herself and grabbed five consecutive points to snatch the game 21-17.
With this win in an hour and 11 minutes, Saina, who last week won the India Open, took a 3-1 lead over the 21-year-old Sun in career meetings.
In the other semi-final reigning world champion Carolina Marin faces former World No.1 Shixian Wang of China, who staved off Japanese Nozomi Okuhara 21-19, 15-21, 22-20 in a marathon encounter that lasted one hour and 51 minutes.
World No.2 Carolina of Spain dismissed Hong Kong qualifier Yi Ngan Cheung 21-12, 21-9 in just 34 minutes.
In men's singles competition, China's World No.1 Chen Long beat Japanese Kento Momota 21-16, 21-11. Reigning world champion Chen will meet compatriot Wang Zhengming who beat Xue Song 21-17, 21-9.
World No.2 and European champion Jan O Jorgensen also progressed to the semi-finals after registering a comprehensive 21-9, 21-15 victory over Hong Kong's Wei Nan.
China's five-time world champion Lin Dan overcame compatriot Tian Houwei 11-21, 21-16, 21-13. Two-time Olympic champion Dan will meet Danish Jorgensen in the semi-final.