London: On a day when one of India's best medal hopes, shooter Ronjan Sodhi, was eliminated from the London Olympics, Saina Nehwal created history by becoming the first Indian badminton player to reach the Olympic semi-finals, where she will take on the World No. 1 Yihan Wang of China.
The Indian shuttler, seeded fourth, displayed tremendous skill as well as moments of nervousness in defeating Denmark's Tine Baun 21-15, 22-20 here at the Wembley Arena and en route improved upon her quarter-final finish at Beijing four years ago.
The first set was a breeze for Saina, as she opened up a lead with a series of strong smashes against the two-time All England champion Baun. Saina showed precision as errors crept into Baun's game.
The Indian beat Denmark\'s Tine Baun 21-15, 22-20 in a tough duel on Thursday to reach the semi-finals.
Leading 11-7 at the breather in Game 1, Saina displayed intelligent variation in her strokes to race to a 20-12 lead. However, the Dane saved a few game points before Saina won the game off a smash that Baun failed to send across the net.
But the second game was a tighter affair. Baun went into a 3-0 lead, but Saina fought back to lead 11-10 at the break. Saina tried to run the Dane around the court but Baun was ready with the answers to first make it 15-15 and then earn three game points at 20-17. Saina didn't buckle under pressure and won four points in a row to go to match point at 21-20. A fifth consecutive point then sealed the win for Saina.
The semi-final will be by far Saina's most difficult match as she has never beaten Wang in the five matches they have played so far.