Faced with Saina Nehwal's continued persistence, the Chinese seem to be wilting. The 22-year-old world No. 5 yet again proved a thorn in China's flesh as she wore down former All-England champion Shixian Wang 21-17, 21-23, 21-19 in an energy-sapping quarterfinal of the Djarum Indonesia Super Series Premier in Jakarta on Friday.
After the draining one-hour-37-minute tie, without doubt the best match of the tournament so far, Saina pumped her fists in delight and lay on the court as a sense of great relief overwhelmed her. Then emotions took over and she was seen shedding a few tears.
It was apparent the match had required all of her reserves of skill and temperament.
"It was a very, very, very tough match, perhaps the most difficult of my career. I was so drained up that I could not control my tears after getting the match point. Both of us played really hard and we had to fight hard for each and every point," Saina said.
Saina's academy-mate Parupalli Kashyap, who knocked out top seed Chen Long of China on Thursday, marched into the semifinals with a straight game victory over Hans-Kristian Vittinghus of Denmark 21-15, 21-14.
A couple of hours before Shixian's exit, the Chinese suffered another shock as world No. 2 Wang Xin lost to world No. 10 Ji Hyun Sung of Korea 16-21, 17-21 in another last eight clash. Ji will square up against Saina in the semifinal on Saturday.
The enthralling encounter between two exceptionally talented 22-year-olds witnessed deft drops, clever cross court drives, hurting body smashes and most importantly, nerve-rattling rallies that pushed the crowd to the edge of their seats.
Shixian, one of the three Chinese to qualify for London, opened up a 5-2 lead in the first game. But Saina managed to draw Shixian closer to the net and took control. The Indian led 11-10 at the break and from 16-16 she moved to 20-16 with a four-point burst. At 20-17, Saina killed a long rally with a ferocious body smash.