It was mixed fortunes for India on the penultimate day of the Denmark Open 2018 at Odense Saturday. Saina Nehwal hardly broke a sweat while beating her unheralded rival Gregoria Mariska Tunjung to enter the final of women's singles event, but Srikanth Kidambi suffered a thrashing at the hands of imperious Kento Momota in a men's singles semi-final.
Nehwal took only 30 minutes to dismantle the Indonesia teenager in a virtuoso performance worthy of a champion. The Indian shuttler, with would be husband Parupalli Kashyap in the coaching team, won the match 21-11, 21-12.
But waiting for her in the final is Tai Tzu Ying, the undisputed World Number one, if we may. She also registered an easy semi-final match, taking exactly the same time to beat seventh seed He Bingjao of China, 21-14, 21-12.
In Sunday's final, the Chinese Taipei girl will start as the overwhelming favourite against the Asian Games bronze medallist. In their 17 previous meetings, Tai won 12 times with Nehwal's last win coming way back in March 2013 at the Swiss Open. In these five years, Tai has defeated Nehwal ten times.
This year alone, Tai has beaten Nehwal four times, all straight game wins at Indonesia Masters (final 9-21, 3-21), Asian Games (semi-final 17-21, 14-21), Asia Championship (semi-final 25-27, 19-21) and All England (R32 14-21, 18-21). Nehwal herself had admitted that Tai is the toughest opponent she has ever faced.
But the 28-year-old from Hissar is having one of her best spells towards the end of the calendar year. She already defeated World No 2 Akane Yamaguchi and World No 7 Nozomi Okuhara en route to the semis. Both the Japanese girls tough opponents.
Earlier in the day, India's top male player Srikanth failed to mount a challenge against his Japanese opponent and title favourite Momota, losing the semis in 42 minutes.
A scoreline of 21-16, 21-12 all but reflected the lopsidedness of the contest. The Indian shuttler only managed to keep up for the first 20 points of the match. From a 10-10 in the first game, the World No 1 from Japan made it an one-way traffic.
This was Srikanth's ninth defeat to the Japanese left-hander, with four of those coming this year.
Srikanth's hour-long quarter-final win against compatriot Sameer Verma yesterday and another three-game match against Chinese great Lin Dan the day before did contribute to the fatigue factor, but against a supremely talented and confident opponent, the Indian hardly got any chance.
In the final, the second-seed will play fourth seed, Chou Tien Chen. The Chinese Taipei player defeated local boy Anders Antonsen in three games, 19-21, 21-11, 21-12.
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