Saina Nehwal played one of her best matches of the year in the Australian Open quarterfinals, against Thailand's Ratchanok Intanon, emerging victorious in straight games, score reading 28-26, 21-16 . Though the match might have been tight in the first game, Saina looked in complete control, and played some stunning badminton in the second one to reach the semifinals of the Australian Open.
Besides Saina, Kidambi Srikanth also managed to book a berth in the last four after an impressive display against Korea's Kwang Hee Heo, who lost in straight games, score reading 21-18, 21-17. It was not a walk in the park for Srikanth, who was tested by the Korean shuttler, but the Indian shuttler held his nerves in both the games, to reach the semifinals of the Australian Open.
Srikanth needs to perform much better in the semifinals as he has set up a date against Denmark's Hans-Kristian Vittinghus.
However, the day belonged to Saina with her stupendous win. Saina might have been troubled with injuries in 2016, leading to some below par performances, this win over Intanon will play an important role in silencing her critics. It was a flawless performance from the Indian shuttler, which will also gives her huge confidence in the future rounds of the Australian Open.
The first game produced some thrilling moments, with both the players playing some fine shots from both the back and front end of the court. There were some amazing rallies, which included those powerful smashes down the line, and incredible net plays, dazzling spectators in the stadium.
With the first game locked at 20-20, neither player were giving an inch to the other, as the game ended in favour of Saina, 28-26, after some gruelling points in the latter stages.
The second game also started in a similar manner, with both players playing an aggressive match. There was nothing to choose between the two players in the match during the second game as they were tied at 4-4 in the initial exchanges, but Saina ran into a decent lead of 11-7, and there was no stopping the world number one in such dominating form.
There was an air of confidence regarding Saina's play in the second game, as she demolished her opponent with some strong smashes, and increased her lead to 18-9. There were instances when Intanon looked helpless, and Saina even floored the Thai girl with her incredible shots. With a powerful smash, Saina closed the second game, score reading 21-15.
Saina will face the winner of the other quarterfinal between Wang Yihan and Tai Tzu Ying.