Saina sails into Korea Open quarterfinals

Saina Nehwal defeated Kim Ga Eun 21-18, 21-18 in a 37-minute women’s singles pre-quarterfinal.

Fifth seed Saina (above) will cross swords with 2017 world champion and third seed Japanese Nozomi Okuhara. (File Photo)   -  PTI

India ace Saina Nehwal progressed to the quarterfinals of the $600,000 Korea Open after seeing off Korea’s Kim Ga Eun at the BWF World Tour Super 500 tournament, here, on Thursday.

Former world number one, who had won a bronze at the Asian Games and gold at Commonwealth Games this year, defeated Kim Ga Eun 21-18, 21-18 in a 37-minute women’s singles pre-quarterfinal.

Fifth seed Saina will cross swords with 2017 world champion and third seed Japanese Nozomi Okuhara. Saina has a 6-3 head-to-head count against the Okuhara, but she has lost to the Japanese in the last two meetings. The Indian made a rampaging start, jumping to a 10-2 lead, but Kim narrowed the gap to 8-11 at the break.

AS IT HAPPENED: Saina Nehwal reaches Korea Open quarters

After the breather, Saina continued to move ahead, grabbing a 16-10 lead, but the Korean reeled off six straight points to draw level at 18-18. However, Saina ensured that there were no hiccups, grabbing the required three points to pocket the opening game.

Kim came back strongly in the second game, surging to an 8-1 advantage, but the experienced Saina slowly clawed her way back to 10-13 and then, claimed seven points on the trot to turn the tables on the Korean, reaching 17-13. From there on, Saina sealed the contest, despite Kim’s attempts to fightback.

Saina had reached the final of Indonesia Masters in January and the only tournament she won was the Commonwealth Games in April, beating compatriot P.V. Sindhu in the final at Gold Coast.