Johor Bahru: Ace Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal continued her dream run and reached the quarterfinals of the Malaysian Open Grand Prix Gold badminton tournament with a gruelling three-game win over Intanon Ratchanok of Thailand in the city on Thursday.
Second seed Saina rallied to outlast Intanon 18-21 21-12 21-18 in a 46 minute clash to set up a quarterfinal with Chinese qualifier Xin Wang on Friday.
Xin thumped sixth seed Japanese Ai Goto 21-14 21-14 in the other pre-quarterfinal.
VICTORY: Second seed Champion Saina has defeated her rival Intanon Ratchanok of Thailand.
Intanon played better from the nets and scored from her smashes but could not get past Saina, who recovered well from a game down to get the better of her Thai rival.
In a see-saw battle, Intanon had the upper hand when she overcame Saina in the first game. Even though Saina played well, the game slipped through her fingers.
With her back to the walls, the world number eight Indian switched into an aggressive mode in the next game and raced to a 9-6 lead before pocketing it comfortably at the end.
At 1-1, the decider turned out to be a perfect pot-boiler as fortunes fluctuated with the two involving in a tooth and nail battle.
Saina raced to a 10-5 lead but the Thai soon reeled off four straight points to claw back and reduce the gap to 10-9 before Saina changed gears and eventually sealed the issue.
However, it was curtains for Arvind Bhat and Ajay Jayaram in the men's singles.
Ninth seed Arvind was thrashed by Chinese Long Chen 5-21 11-21 in just 27 minutes, while Ajay went down to Yun Hu of Hong Kong 15-21 14-21 within half an hour.
Meanwhile, India's mixed doubles pair of V Diju and Jwala Gutta brushed aside the Malaysian duo of Wee tat Tan and Hui Ern Ng 21-12 21-12 to move into the quarterfinals where they will meet Indonesian pair of Hendra Aprida Gunawan and Vita Marissa on Friday.
Men's doubles pair of Rupesh Kumar and Sanave Thomas won their first round match against the sixth seeded Chinese pair of Zhiben Chen and Ye Shen 14-21 21-15 21-16 in a 53 minute clash.
They will next face the Malaysian pair of Teik Chai Gan and Bin Shen Tan.