Odense (Denmark), Oct 18 (IANS) India's defending champion Saina Nehwal lost a marathon women's singles quarterfinal against Ji Hyun Sung of South Korea in the Denmark Open Super Series Premier here Friday.
The sixth seeded Ji overcame the World No.4 Indian 13-21, 21-18, 21-19 in a thrilling one hour and six minute-long encounter to enter the semifinals at the Odense Sports Park. This was the South Korean's first win over the Hyderabadi in five meetings.
Saina was clearly the better player in the opener, dominating the first game in every sector and winning more points than her opponent at the net as well as with smashes.
Having got a feel of the atmosphere, the South Korean slowly started settling down in the second set and matched Saina shot-for-shot. Leading 14-12, Ji then notched five straight points to almost seal the game. The Indian tried clawing back by negating three game points, but Ji pushed the match into the decider.
The third game was a close affair where the maximum difference of points was three. Towards the end of the game, down 13-16, the London Olympics bronze medallist pulled back three points to level the scoreline at 16-all.
Ji stroked away into the lead again and Saina clawed back. At 19-all it was anybody's game but Ji showed nerves of steel to kitty the game and match.
Both players had equal number of smash winners to their name while Saina had 14 net points to Ji's 11. But it was the crucial junctures of the match, where the Korean clinched the points when it was most required.