Indian shutters had a field day at the Thailand Open today, as both Saina Nehwal and Sai Praneeth booked a place in the semi-finals of their respective events. Saina won her match against H Suzuki 21-15, 20-22, 21-11, while Praneeth beat K Wangcharoen in straight games of 21-16 21-17.
Saina, who is playing her first tournament since her first round exit at the Asian Championships in April, got off to a brilliant start winning the first three points of the first game. But Suzuki won back to back points. However, the Indian appeared to be in inspired form as she went one better on her next run to take the score to 7-1. The Japanese tried to claw her way back into the game by winning two of the next three points but Nehwal won the next five on the trot to take a commanding 13-3 lead. Even though Suzuki showed some grit towards the end of the game, winning four points in a row, it was never going to be enough as Saina rounded up the first game 21-15.
Saina started the second game just as she had in the first one winning two points on the spin but the Japanese was in no mood to let the Indian run away with the second game. The players never let the other extend their lead by more than one and at the mid-game interval, it was the Indian who held a slender lead. With the score at 15-15, it was Japanese who took the initiative and took a two point lead but it was short-lived as the Indian leveled things up at 17 all. With no player ready to give an inch, it was Saina who brought up match point at 20-19 but it was Suzuki who won three consecutive points to level the match at a game apiece.
In the decider, the duo split the first six points before Saina raced to a 9-6 lead. However, the Japanese was not going to go down without a fight and brought the game back to within a point before Saina won the next three points in a row to regain her lead. The Japanese tried to stay in the game till 15-11 before Saina won the last six in a row to outclass her opponent and book a place in tomorrow's semi-final against Thai youngster Busanan Ongbumrungpan.
Sai Praneeth, too, booked his place in the semi-final with a straight games win against Kantaphon Wangcharoen. Praneeth comfortably beat the Thai teenager 21-16 21-17 in the men's singles event in 50 minutes to set up a semi-final clash against the winner of Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk and Pannawit Thongnuam.