Denmark Open: Kidambi Srikanth and Saina Nehwal enter semis

Kidambi Srikanth beat compatriot Sameer Verma, while Saina Nehwal overcame Nozomi Okhara in the Denmark Open quarterfinal to progress to the last four.

Srikanth will now face off against Kento Momota while Saina will face Gregoria Mariska Tunjung.   -  AFP/Reuters

Kidambi Srikanth beat Sameer Verma 22-20, 19-21, 23-21 in a fiercely-contested match in the all-Indian men's singles quarterfinal of the Denmark Open on Friday.

Having learnt their badminton basics at the Gopichand Academy, Srikanth and Verma were level at 3-3, when the former won three consecutive points to make it 6-3. But Verma showed resilience to come back and restore parity at 8-8.

It was 11-11 when Verma took the lead, with Srikanth not far behind the World No. 23. The defending champion stepped on the gas once he got level at 15-15 by making it 18-15. Verma denied Srikanth a game point to be level on 20-20, but gave in as Srikanth took the first game 22-20.

The second game saw longer rallies and more fierce smashes as both the players went from being level at 2-2 to 6-6  and then back to 9-9. Srikanth won three consecutive points to make it 11-7, but Verma came back strongly to win five points in a row to make the game 16-16.

Very little separated pair for the next four points, but Verma fended off his compatriot to take the second game 21-19.

The experienced Srikanth looked good in the beginning of the deciding game when took a 3-0 lead, but it did not last long as Verma levelled things at 3-3. The 23-year old maintained a three-point lead over his higher-ranked countryman and won three consecutive points to make it 11-7.

Srikanth came close at 12-13 but Verma won three more points in a row to make 17-13. World No.5 Srikanth showed urgency as he won three consecutive points to make it 18-18. The game went down to the wire when the scores were tied both at 20-20 and 21-21, when Srikanth held his nerve to take the match 23-21.

The champion will now face World No.1 Kento Momota in the semifinal.

Nehwal overcomes Okuhara

Saina Nehwal came from behind to progress to the semifinal of the Denmark Open with a 17-21, 21-16, 21-12 win over 2017 world champion Nozomi Okuhara in Odense on Friday.

Nehwal turned around her fortunes remarkably after going down in the first game, dominating the second and third to seal her place in the last-four.

Okuhara pounced on Nehwal's errors in the first game, while the second also began on a similar note, Okuhara seizing control at the start of the second and going 7-4 up. Nehwal, though, managed to fight back, helped by a flurry of mistakes from Okuhara, to gain parity at 10-10 before taking the game 21-16.

The third set a lot more straightforward for Nehwal, who won it 21-12.

Friday’s success over the Japanese, coming in 58 minutes, helped Nehwal exact revenge for the loss she suffered at Okuhara’s hands at the same stage in the Korea Open. This was her seventh win in 11 career meetings with the Japanese and came after suffering three consecutive defeats — her last victory coming in the All England Championships last year.

Indonesian teenager Gregoria Mariska Tunjung awaits Nehwal in the semis on Saturday, whose progress includes a first-round defeat of three-time world champion and 2016 Olympic gold-medallist Carolina Marin.