Orleans Masters: Saina enters semis, Srikanth loses while Ashwini scripts twin wins

Nehwal will face either Denmark's Line Christophersen or compatriot Ira Sharma for a place in the finals at the Super 100 event.

It is the first semifinals in two years for world no. 20 Saina, who is desperate to accumulate ranking points to make it to her fourth Olympics at the Tokyo Games.   -  AP Photo

Indian ace Saina Nehwal eked out a thrilling three-game win over USA's Iris Wang to advance to the women's singles semifinals but Kidambi Srikanth crashed out of the men's singles competition at the Orleans Masters badminton tournament here on Friday.

It is the first semifinals in two years for world no. 20 Saina, who is desperate to accumulate ranking points to make it to her four Olympics at the Tokyo Games. Her last semifinal appearance was in January 2019 in the Indonesia Masters 500 tournament which she had won.

The fourth seeded Indian, who had withdrawn from the All England Championships last week due to an injury, had to dug deep to script a 21-19, 17-21, 21-19 win over world no. 36 Wang in a gruelling quarterfinals match that lasted exactly an hour.

READ | BAI says domestic tournaments to resume in April with revamped structure

The London Olympic bronze medallist will face either Denmark's Line Christophersen or compatriot Ira Sharma for a place in the finals at the Super 100 event, which is a part of BWF's revised Olympic qualification events.

Former world number one Srikanth, however, cut a sorry figure as he went down 19-21, 17-21 to France's Toma Junior Popov in a 31-minute men's singles quarterfinals.

Star doubles player Ashwini Ponnappa dished out a superb game as she first paired up with N Sikki Reddy to notch up a stunning 21-14, 21-18 win over England's third-seeded duo of Chloe Birch and Lauren Smith in women's doubles.

Ashwini then combined with Dhruv Kapila to outwit England's Max Flynn and Jessica Pugh 21-13, 21-18 in mixed doubles quarterfinals.

Ashwini and Sikki, world no. 25, will face the top-seeded Thailand combination of Jongkolphan Kititharakul and Rawinda Prajongjai next in women's doubles.

Ashwini and Dhruv will meet Niclas Nohr and Amalie Magelund in the mixed doubles semifinals.

READ | P. Gopichand: Indian badminton needs the right structure

Young Ira Sharma also was no match for Christophersen, going down 11-21, 8-21 in another women's singles quarterfinals.

Earlier, the Indian men's doubles pair of Krishna Prasad Garaga and Vishnu Vardhan Goud Panjala outwitted world no. 47 French duo of Christo Popov and Toma Junior Popov 21-17, 10-21, 22-20 in an hour and three minutes to make it to the semifinals.

The unheralded Indian duo will face England's Callum Hemming and Steven Stallwood for a place in the final on Saturday.

The English pair had ended the campaign of Indian seventh seeds MR Arjun and Dhruv Kapila 21-19, 18-21, 23-21 in the quarterfinals.