Indian badminton ace Saina Nehwal defeated world number two Akane Yamaguchi of Japan for the first time in four years to enter the women’s singles quarterfinals of the Denmark Open here on Thursday.
Later in the day, more good news was in store of India as Sameer Verma held his nerve to beat Asian Games champion Jonathan Christie to reach the men’s singles quarterfinals.
The ninth-ranked Indian let go of three match points in the deciding game before pulling off a 23-21, 6-21, 22-20 win over the world number 12 from Indonesia.
Nehwal, however, won her second round match rather convincingly. The Olympic bronze-medallist, who has dropped to 27 in the latest world rankings, registered an easy 21-15, 21-17 win over second-seeded Yamaguchi.
The 28-year-old Indian will now take on world number three and another Japanese, Nozomi Okuhara, in the quarterfinals on Friday.
This was Nehwal’s second career win over Yamaguchi, who has won six times in the head-to-head encounters between the two.
Nehwal’s first win against Yamaguchi came in 2014 during the China Open.
Since then, Yamaguchi has enjoyed upper hand against the Indian. The earlier two meetings this year -- Uber Cup in May and Malaysia Open in June -- also went in Yamaguchi’s favour.
Nehwal trailed 0-4 initially but she made a fine comeback to level the scores at 10-10. But from there, Nehwal showed tremendous resolve and reeled off five straight points to take a 15-10 lead and then widened it to 19-12.
Yamaguchi recovered a bit but Nehwal grabbed five game points at 20-15 and then easily pocketed the first game.
In the second game, it was Nehwal’s turn to take the lead initially as she zoomed to 7-2 but Yamaguchi caught her up at 11-11.
After that, it was a close tussle between the two as they were locked at 17-17.
At that stage, Nehwal cinched four points on the trot to win the second game and clinch the match.
It was a good day for India in the women’s doubles as well with Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy upsetting seventh seeds from South Korea, Lee Ho See and Shin Seung Chan, 18-21, 22-20, 21-18 to enter the quarterfinals.