Saina Nehwal, HS Prannoy lose in semis at Asia Championships

Wuhan: Indian singles stars Saina Nehwal and H.S. Prannoy settled for bronze medals after losing in the semi-finals of the Badminton Asia Championships here on Saturday.

London Olympic bronze medallist Saina lost to Chinese Taipei top seed Tai Tzu Ying 25-27, 19-21 in 45 minutes. It was Saina’s third bronze medal in the Asia Championships.

Following her ninth consecutive win against Saina, Tai has taken a 11-5 lead in head-to-head record against the veteran Indian.

In the final, world No.2 Tai will meet Chinese sixth seed Chen Yufei, who eased past South Korean seventh seed Sung Ji Hyun 21-12, 21-13 in 37 minutes.

The 20-year-old Yufei booked a spot in the final without dropping one game in four matches.

“Tai is keeping good form this year. I haven’t beat her for a long time, so she is really a tough rival for me to play,” Yufei was quoted as saying by Xinhua news agency. “But I will try to give out my best to challenge her.”

In a men’s singles semi-final, Prannoy was defeated by Reigning Olympic champion and Chinese third seed Chen Long, who won 21-16, 21-18 in 52 minutes.

Chen was in a little trouble in the middle of the second game, as Prannoy snatched a 6-1 surge to level the score 12-12. But the third seed kept his nerves and performed better at the key points, taking two points in a row at 17-16 and eventually wrapped up the game 21-18.

“Prannoy played very well today. Both of us went through a three-game fight yesterday. But I was in my own game style today, even when facing his counterback in the second game, I made adjustment to take on the challenge very quickly,” the 29-year-old Chen said.

World No.10 Prannoy bagged his first medal at the continental meet. It was India’s first medal since Anup Sridhar’s bronze medal in 2007.

In the final, former world champion and home favourite Chen will meet unseeded Japanese Kento Momota, who stunned fifth seed and Malaysian veteran Lee Chong Wei with a 21-19, 21-14 victory in 55 minutes.

Talking about his opponent, Chen said: “Kento is a talented shuttler who has a good understanding of badminton. I have to try hard in tomorrow’s final,” Chen added.

The men’s doubles final will be fought between the Chinese top-seeded pair of Li Junhui and Liu Yucheng and Japanese pair Takeshi Kamura and Keigo Sonoda.

Junhui and Yucheng were one match away from defending the title when they overcame compatriots Huang Kaixiang and Wang Yilyu 21-17, 14-21, 21-10, while Kamura and Sonoda went past home duo of Zhang Nan and Liu Cheng 14-21, 21-12, 25-23.

In the women’s doubles final, Japanese third seeds Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota will meet second seeded comnpatriots Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi.

The mixed doubles final will be a battle between Indonesian top seeded Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir and Chinese second seeds Wang Yilyu and Huang Dongping.