Lin Dan stunned; Saina, Srikanth enter India Open semis

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New Delhi: Five-time World champion Lin Dan suffered a shocking loss against eighth seed Tommy Sugiarto, while leading Indian shuttlers Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Sriaknth entered the semi-finals of the $275,000 Yonex Sunrise India Open Superseries here on Friday.

Two-time Olympics champion Dan of China was stunned 17-21, 21-15, 17-21 in the quarter-finals by the World No.8 Sugiarto of Indonesia in an hour and 18 minutes at the Siri Fort Sports Complex here.

World No.2 Saina beat Indonesia’s Hana Ramadhini 21-15, 21-12 in 40 minutes to advance to the last four stage along with Spaniard Carolina Marin. Reigning World champion Carolina overcame Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara 21-15, 17-21, 21-15 in an hour and 14 minutes.

Former World champion Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand will meet world No.4 Carolina, while Japanese Yui Hashimoto will face crowd favourite and Olympic bronze medallist Saina in the semi-finals.

“It is not about the No.1 or No.2 spot right now,” Saina said when asked if she sees becoming world No.1 a possibility. “I am concentrating on one match at a time and on winning them.”

World No.4 Srikanth staved off a strong challenge from Japanese Takuma Ueda, who lost 15-21, 25-23, 18-21 in a marathon encounter that lasted for an hor and 18 minutes.

In the semi-final, Srikanth will meet China’s Xue Song, who defeated R.M.V. Gurusaidutt 15-21, 21-18, 21-13 in an hour and four minutes.

H.S. Prannoy, who grabbed everyone’s attention on Thursday by ousting top seed Jan O Jorgensen, found another Dane a little tricky to handle. World No.6 Viktor Axelsen was determined to take revenge of Jorgensen’s defeat, and he achieved that by beating Prannoy 16-21, 21-9, 21-18 in 58 minutes.

In a thrilling match involving Dan and Sugiarto, the Indonesian made the third seeded Chinese move all over the court with his cleverly-placed shots which paid off as Lin Dan made many unforced errors.

Dan was stretched to three games for the first time in this Superseries event. Sugiarto looked dangerous in the beginning of the match itself and Lin Dan struggled throughout the match to catch-up with him.

Sugiarto gave credit to his father, the legendary Indonesian player and former world champion Icuk Sugiarto, who is now his coach and mentor.

“This has been my best performance till now as I have played against Lin Dan thrice before but never won,” an overwhelmed Sugiarto said after the match.

Axelsen, who is seeded 6th in this tournament, will now face Super Dan-slayer Sugiarto in the semi-final.

“I know Lin Dan is not 100 percent fit right now, but still it would have been difficult to play against him in the semis. But playing Sugiarto is definitely not easy, he is in good form,” the 21-year-old from Denmark said.

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