Saina, who won without fuss, will clash with Jang Anand Pawar had a mixed day. He shocked Chetan but surrendered to Lee
MUMBAI: Saina Nehwal's drop shots left Hi Moon Kim breathless, forcing the South Korean into awkward positions at the net. Unfazed by expectations or attention, the Indian won without stretching herself at the IndianOil-sponsored Indian International badminton championship.
The 21-15, 21-18 semifinal victory put the top seed on course for the expected showdown with Soo Young Jang in Friday's final.
Both had faced each other across the net in the World junior championship semifinal last week in Incheon where Saina silenced the Korean supporters with a famous victory. This time, the Indian will enjoy the home advantage.
Nikhil Kanetkar kept India's flag flying in the men's singles, concentrating hard despite exhaustion, to register an exciting 21-19, 13-21, 21-15 semifinal win after a hard day in office against Hoon Min Jung.
Kanetkar's progress made up for the shock and disappointment of local lad Anand Pawar's defeat at the hands of Ho Cheol Lee.
The Mumbai teenager gave away points in his anxiety to force the pace, hitting a low at dusk after the morning high a stunning quarterfinal win over the top seed Chetan Anand.
Pawar dominated for brief periods against Lee, covering the court with ease and hitting steep smashes, but also gave away too many points.
He owed his quarterfinal victory over Chetan to tactical inputs from father Uday Pawar, former India doubles international, as well as the self-confidence to execute the plan against the highest-ranked Indian player in the world.
The Mumbai teenager, playing his first season among men, kept a frenetic pace against the top seed.
"Chetan has got into trouble against speedy opponents able to sustain the pace over longer bursts," said Uday.
Pawar's semifinal rival Lee defeated Ajay Jayaram in a thrilling quarterfinal which could have swung either way. Ajay put early reverses behind him to catch up in the second 21-18, and stretched the Korean in the decider before losing narrowly.
The results (Indians unless specified): Men's singles semifinals: Ho Cheol Lee (Kor) bt Anand Pawar 21-19, 21-18; Nikhil Kanetkar bt Hoon Ming Jung (Kor) 21-19, 13-21, 21-15; Quarterfinals: Pawar bt Chetan Anand 21-16, 21-17; Lee bt Ajay Jayaram 21-10, 18-21, 21-18; Kanetkar bt Hun Dong Kim (Kor) 21-11, 21-18; Min Jung bt Michael Christensen (Den) 23-21, 21-11.
Women's singles semifinals: Saina Nehwal bt Hi Moon Kim (Kor) 21-15, 21-18; Soo Young Jang (Kor) bt Eun Kyung Jung (Kor) 21-18, 21-16; Quarterfinals: Saina bt Ruth Misha 21-18, 21-15; Moon Kim bt Aditi Mutatkar 22-24, 23-21, 21-8; Kyung Jung bt Soo Young Jung (Kor) 21-14, 21-16; Young Jang bt Jwala Gutta 21-15, 21-19.
Men's doubles (quarterfinals): Rupesh Kumar & Thomas Sanave bt Sun Young Kim & Seck Eui Chung (Kor) 21-15, 21-13; Chiat Chung Khoo & Abdul Latif Mohdraza (Mas) bt Hung Don Kim & Chin Baek Cheol (Kor) 21-19, 18-21, 21-13; Soon Peng Chan & Pin Hung Chan (Kor) bt Marcos Bristow & Jaison Xavier 21-10, 22-20; V. Diju & J.B. Vidyadhar bt Jin Ying Goh & Abdul Rehman 21-14, 21-12.
Women's doubles (quarterfinals): Jwala Gutta & Shruti Kurian bt P. Jyotsana & A. Priya 21-11, 21-14; Jung Soo Hong & Jang In Sun (Kor) bt Bibari Basumatary & Abhantika Deka 21-6, 21-4; Kyun Youn Jung & Jung Min Kim (Kor) bt Aparna Balan & Krishna Dekaraja 21-16, 21-7.