Kuala Lumpur: Olympic bronze medallist Saina Nehwal survived a scare from lower-ranked Japanese Nozomi Okuhara before advancing to the semi-finals of the Malaysian Super Series in the women's singles competition here on Friday.
The top seed Saina dropped a game after having an early advantage but with Nozomi retiring early on in the third game, the Indian cemented her place into the last four stage with a 21-11 14-21 2-0 win in a 43-minute contest.
She will next take on the winner between two-time All England champion Tine Baun and sixth seed Tzu Ying Tai of Chinese Taipei on Saturday. The Hyderabadi girl dominated the proceedings from the very beginning. After opening up a 3-0 lead, she not only maintained it but also slowly and steadily widened the gap to take a 1-0 lead in the match.
Indian cemented her place into the last four stage with Nozomi retiring early on in the third game.
In the second game, however, Nozomi got her act together and gave Saina a taste of her own medicine as she zoomed to a 9-1 lead and eventually made it 14-1 as Saina's game crumbled.
The Indian tried to narrow the gap but it was too much of a gulf to bridge. In the decider though, Nozomi retired due to a troubled knee while she was lagging 0-2, to hand over a victory to Saina.