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Saina Nehwal is lone Indian to advance at Australian Open

Ace shuttler Saina Nehwal notched up a hard-fought three-game win over China’s Sun Yu to emerge as the lone Indian survivor in Australian Open Super Series badminton tournament on Thursday.

World No 1 Saina continued her rampaging run in world badminton and staved off a challenge from Sun, ranked 9th, 21-19, 19-21, 21-14 in a match that lasted an hour and 18 minutes in the women’s singles competition.

The Olympic bronze medallist will next take on two-time All England champion Shixian Wang, against whom Saina has a close 6-5 record in 11 meetings.

However, it was curtains for World No 4 Kidambi Srikanth and 2010 Commonwealth Games champion pair of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa on Thursday.

Fourth seed Srikanth squandered a first-game advantage to go down fighting to China’s Tian Houwei 21-18, 17-21, 13-21 in men’s singles, Jwala and Ashwini lost to fourth seeded Indonesian pair of Nitya Krishinda Maheswari and Greysia Polii 14-21, 10-21 in a women’s doubles match.

Saina, who had beaten Sun thrice in the last four meetings, came out with a well-thought strategy as she broke off at 5-5 and entered the interval with a 11-6 lead.

Sun played better after the interval to slowly narrow the gap before clawing back at 18-18, but a determined Saina zoomed ahead to pocket the opening game.

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