Star shuttler Saina Nehwal, on Friday, suffered a straight game defeat, losing 8-21, 7-21 in just 29 minutes, to Olympic champion Carolina Marin in the quarterfinals of the ongoing Malaysia Masters Super 500 tournament at the Axiatar Arena in Kuala Lampur.
In what turned out to be a crushing defeat, the Indian star shuttler appeared to be tired and drained out after her pre-quarterfinal win over young sensation An Se Young of Korea. Marin, on the other hand, was in imperious form right from the outset and never really looked in trouble through the match.
Saina had been a bit lucky to emerge with a win (and a title) the last time the two players met in the final of the Indonesia Masters in January 2019. Marin had taken a comfortable lead in the opening game before she fell and injured her knee, that forced her to withdraw.
This time, though, there was no such misfortune for the Spaniard. Marin, who has come back strong from her injury and even won the China Open Super 1000 title, dominated Friday's clash. She was deceptive, cunning and moved around the court really well to thwart anything Saina threw at her.
Saina, on her part, kept trying to find a way back in the match. She mixed up her game with big lobs and deft drop shots but Marin's nifty footwork meant she could reach anywhere. As the game progressed, it became more and more clear that there could only be one winner. In the end, it took Marin less than half an hour to wrap up the match and advance to the semifinals.
With this, India's challenge in the season's first Super 500 tournament comes to an end on a disappointing note. Earlier in the day, PV Sindhu lost to World No. 2 Tai Tzu Ying in straight games to crash out.
None of the Indian shuttlers managed to reach the last four stage. In fact, apart from Sindhu and Saina, none made it to quarters. Star shuttlers like Kidambi Srikanth, Sai Praneeth as well as the dashing duo of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty had crashed out in the first round itself.