Olympic silver-medallist P V Sindhu entered the semifinals of the Hong Kong Super Series after posting a hard-fought victory over Singapore's Xiaoyu Liang even as Saina Nehwal bowed out here today.
Had the former World No. 1 and London Olympics bronze medallist Saina won her match, she would have met Sindhu in an all Indian battle in the semifinals.
The only time Saina and Sindhu clashed at the international circuit was at the 2014 India Grand Prix gold tournament and it was the senior shuttler who had the last laugh in a two-game match.
In a surprise run in the men's draw, Sameer Verma reached the semifinals -- his maiden appearance at this stage.
Sameer got the better of Malaysia's Chong Wei Feng 21-17, 23-21 in just 47 minutes.
Hong Kong world superseries semifinal schedule tomorrow.Best wishes @Pvsindhu1 & @sameerv2210 pic.twitter.com/JicnD3Cdab— Reddit Indian Sports (@redditIndSports) November 25, 2016
However, it was the end of the road for Ajay Jayaram, who lost his quarterfinal match to NG Ka Long Angus of Hong Kong 15-21, 14-21 in mere 32 minutes.
Earlier in the day, Sindhu, who clinched the China Open last week, staved off a stiff challenge from Xiaoyu Liang 21-17 21-23 21-18 in a quarterfinal match that lasted an hour and 19 minutes at the Hong Kong Coliseum.
Fifth-seeded Saina, meanwhile, failed to cross the hurdle as she was stunned by unseeded local shuttler Cheung Ngan Yi 8-21 21-18 19-21 in a contest that lasted an hour and 11 minutes. The Indian had earlier beaten Cheung Ngan Yi at the World Championships last year.
In the latest BWF rankings, Sindhu has jumped two places, courtesy her China Open win, to grab the ninth spot, while Saina, who is on a comeback trail after recovering from a serious injury, slipped five places to 11th, owing to her first round exit at the same event.
In the Destinational Dubai ranking for the BWF Super Series Final, Sindhu (38,490) is ahead of Saina (38,080) by a few points.
Hence, when the rankings come out next week, Sindhu is likely to qualify for the prestigious tournament, to be held next month.