Defending champion Saina Nehwal of India crashed out of the Denmark Super Series Premier after suffering a shock three-game defeat at the hands of Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun in the quarterfinals of the women’s singles competition in Odense on Friday.

The world number four Indian squandered a one-game lead and committed too many unforced errors to go down 21-13 18-21 19-21 to sixth seed Sung in a match that lasted an hour and six minutes.

Saina, who has a 4-0 record against Sung Ji Hyun before Friday’s match, had beaten the Korean in last year’s Indonesia Open but the past results did not count much as Sung matched the Indian with her strokes and stamina at the Odense Sports Park here.

In the opening game, Saina moved to a 4-1 lead early on but Sung soon turned the tables and managed a slender 11-10 lead at the break. The Indian got back into the lead with a flick of the wrist at the net and with the Korean making a series of unforced errors, Saina reached 15-11.

Saina hit long and then committed a judgement of error to help Sung narrow it to 13-15 but the Indian did not give Sung anymore leeway as she took 20-13 lead. Sung then faltered with a flick at the net to help the Indian pocket the opening game.

Playing on the other side of the court in the second game, Saina took a little time to judge the length of the shuttle initially which allowed Sung to have a 2-0 lead. But a drop and a lucky point at the net helped the Indian to make it 3-2.

Sung levelled the score at 6-6 with Saina making a few error in judging the shuttle. The Korean led 8-7 after the Indian hit long and then made it 10-8 with Saina’s hits going to the net and wide.

Saina, however, kept the pressure on the Korean and picked up three quick points with the help of better court coverage to lead 11-10 at the interval.

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